Microsoft says that the Xbox One Summer Update it announced before the Electronic Entertainment Expo and plans to launch in August, will include an option to let users ditch the Cortana personal assistant and stick to the well-polished Xbox commands that are already available. Traditionally, I don’t like to go with overblown headlines and jokes about serious subjects facing the Xbox community. But, you have to understand how much will power it took for me to not begin this news bulletin with a joke about how our “Long international nightmare is over.”
Mike Ybarra announced the shift in a Twitter status update days ago, but the change is now surfacing in the software release that Microsoft makes available to users in the Xbox Preview Program. To be honest, the change is very much appreciated.
The Xbox One Summer Update originally had Cortana replacing the original Xbox commands wholesale. That would have been too bad Cortana — even as I write this — been a bit rough. The personal assistant is part of Microsoft’s push to unify every device it makes under Windows. On smartphones and tablets she sets appointments, answers questions, responds to voice commands and is pretty helpful in general. The Xbox One version is an exercise in frustration. Even on a Kinect that’s been tuned, she commonly misinterprets commands. When that happens, she opens up a side window minimizing your game. Microsoft said that she would be the perfect gaming assistant, able to check the status of friends, send messages and listen in over headset. She can do those things, but needs a bit of fine tuning.
Turning on the original commands shuts off Cortana. Unfortunately, the two can’t coexist for now.