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In light of Kinect-less Xbox One, interface changes in the works

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

With the Xbox One set to be decoupled from the Kinect next month, Microsoft is working on changes to the console's user interface in an effort to make controller-based navigation more viable, reports Engadget.

Earlier today, Microsoft announced that it will effectively drop the price of the Xbox One from $499 to $399 by offering a version of the console that does not include a Kinect in the box — a decision that goes against the past year of statements from the company about how "essential" the Kinect was to the console. The Kinect-less Xbox One will go on sale June 9 alongside the existing bundle; a standalone Xbox One Kinect will be released this fall.

However, the Xbox One's current user interface seems as if it was geared toward the use of voice control. If Microsoft is going to sell the console without the Kinect, there will be plenty of Xbox One owners in the future who have no choice but to navigate the system's dashboard and apps using a controller alone. Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing and strategy officer for Xbox, told Engadget that Microsoft is working on interface changes for controller users.

"We do want to find ways to give you some of those shortcuts and make some of the things that we have with Kinect easier with the controller," said Mehdi. "You can expect to see us do a bunch of things over the coming months to make the experience easier and easier, even if you don't have a Kinect." He added that Microsoft is working on those changes now, and they will likely arrive soon after E3.

For more on Microsoft's latest Xbox One policy reversal, check out our opinion piece on how it was the right move from a business standpoint, as well as our own interview with Mehdi, in which he told us that today's announcement may allow Microsoft to free up hardware power that had been dedicated to Kinect.

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