The folks at Microsoft’s Xbox Team are back from break and making big changes to the software that powers each Xbox One entertainment console. Only last week the company teased the Xbox One Windows 10 Creators Update. Today, that same update is now rolling out to members of the Xbox Insider Program.
Microsoft kicked off the first round of previews for the new software refresh with a post on its Xbox Wire news blog. The company is publicizing the software upgrade just as it is the improvements coming to notebooks, tablets, desktops and phones with the Windows 10, by calling it the Creators Update. Strange naming scheme aside, there’s a lot to appreciate and some very sad news for those that enjoyed watching television on their Xbox One while playing a game.
The improvements are vast. The company has decided to streamline the Xbox One’s Home experience. Roughly, this has translated to the giant preview window that once dominated the screen being gone. Now there’s just the name of the app you most recently ran and its tile.
There’s a new Xbox Guide, and it works the same way that the original did, but better. Instead of only providing social and quick settings options, there’s now a home area inside the Xbox Guide for accessing the games that you frequently enjoy and any apps that you’ve pinned. A new Achievement tracker available from the Xbox Guide lets you see how you’re progressing without dedicating a third of their display to the task.
This Achievement Overlay and the Cortana overlay hint at something big. Microsoft has killed off the Snap system in the Xbox One Windows 10 Creators Update. As of right now, you can’t watch television and play a game at the same time. You can’t be playing a game and watching a YouTube video either. For now, there’s no way to keep track of your Twitch stream and be playing a game at the same time. There are rumblings that TV’s snapped mode will be replaced by a picture-in-picture mode, but Microsoft hasn’t said that’s happening.
It’s worth noting that Cortana on Xbox One can now handle reminders. They’re great for prodding yourself to go after a specific Achievement and such. I use them elsewhere to basically manage my life.
Lastly, there are some pretty big Accessibility additions. The mapping and advanced controls that were reserved for the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller are now available to everyone. Additionally, a special mode lets gamers use two controllers as if they were one. Narrator and Magnifier have upgrades too.
The good news is that we’re probably months out from the Xbox One Windows 10 Creators Update going out to everyone. Certainly, Microsoft plans to spend more time adding features. Confirmed but missing features include, app and game updates that no longer depend on which Power Mode your console is in, Arena tournament enhancements and Beam game streaming.
If you’re a member of the Xbox Insider Program, you could have this update ready to download now. Just check your Settings app on the console. Because the program uses participation to decide who gets features first, it’s possible that you won’t have it immediately, but will get it in the not too distant future.