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Xbox One Gets New Firmware Update, Sleeker Interface


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The Xbox One received a new firmware update last weekend. Dozens of updates dropped for the Xbox One in the nearly seven years since its rocky debut, shedding many of the console’s initially touted capabilities. From deprioritizing multimedia features to diminishing the role of the Kinect, Microsoft refocused its strategy to put games first.

Between necessary improvements to the system’s interface, the company fleshed-out backwards compatibility with the Xbox 360 and original Xbox and introduced services, including Xbox Game Pass. But in the last few months, Microsoft's updates have focused less on sweeping changes and more on tiny details.

Microsoft outlined the update’s improvements in a post on its website. The Xbox Guide, a tab providing players with quick access to apps, friend lists, and parties, has been reorganized and consolidated. Players can access messages, invites, and parties from the new refreshed Parties and Chats tab while settings and help coexist under Profile and Systems. Clubs and friend suggestions have also been shifted to make them easier to find. Microsoft also added filters to players’ games libraries and altered the Community Page layout, dividing the section into four new categories. Finally, the update improves the browsing experience on Mixer, allowing users to hover over a thumbnail and watch a live preview of the stream. The update is currently available for download.

Despite the impending release of the Xbox Series X, the Xbox One remains central to Microsoft’s strategy. Thanks to the company’s Play Anywhere initiative, players in the Xbox ecosystem can buy hundreds of digital games on the Xbox marketplace and access them on console or PC. Microsoft has taken this approach one step further with the recently announced Smart Delivery System which automatically optimizes a game depending on whether it's running on the Xbox One or Xbox Series X, ensuring the continued relevance of the former following the release of the latter.

The Xbox One May update offers small fixes, many of which will escape the notice of the non-interface-obsessed or livestream agnostic. The console, while far from perfect, no longer necessitates the sweeping changes it did at its inception. Now, Microsoft can focus on cleanup, improving smaller functions on the Xbox One while it tinkers with the Xbox Series X. Bigger things lie ahead.


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