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Microsoft: A 'vast majority' of Xbox One Kinect owners still use peripheral

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Kinect certainly isn't the integral part of the Xbox One it was at launch, but it remains an active part of how owners of the camera and microphone array interact with the console, Microsoft tells Polygon.

"Overall, we don't break down how many console users have Kinect and how many don't," said Mike Nichols, chief marketing officer for Xbox. "That's a level of granularity we don't want to get into.

"I can say that the people with Kinect still make up a very, very sizable portion and that those people do use it quiet frequently. Less for games, but a lot more for biometric sign-in and user interface."

While Nichols declined to give any hard numbers, he did say that a "vast majority" of Kinect owners are still using the device on a regular basis.

The Kinect, which launched with the Xbox One as a required, included peripheral, quickly became an option when its popularity didn't seem to catch on.

It remains on sale as an add-on, but is only included in two currently available bundles.

The fact that a seemingly large number of Xbox One owners still use the Kinect to interact with their console and another group either don't use it or don't even own it, seems like it could be an issue for Microsoft. It means that the company is now designing and updating its system for a fragmented audience: Something that becomes notable when a big update, like the one due out next month, looms.

But Nichols says it's something Microsoft is used to handling.

"It's not unlike the situation with Xbox 360, when we added Kinect and you had to design for with and without systems," he said. "That same part of the decision trees exists now."

bundles

Nichols did acknowledge that the current situation is a change from how the console launched.

"When the team was launching we assumed 100 percent ownership and use of the Kinect," he said. "There was a simplification from a design perspective.

"Now we're not designing for everyone who has it or everyone doesn't have it. We're designing for a good chunk who have it and use it and some new customers who now have decided to get an Xbox One who don't have a Kinect, at least not yet."

What that means to gamers is that with the rollout of the major new user-interface redesign they'll see mostly a de-emphasis on Kinect controls.

Gesture controls on the menus, for instance, have been completely removed.

"That currently exists in the Xbox One experience, but we found so few people use it," Nichols said. "Why should we keep designing for that scenario?"

And the decision to not update gesture with the new user interface - which means no longer supporting it - meant that from an engineering perspective, that time was freed up to work on other things.

Kinect will be getting at least one improvement down the line.

Nichols said that when Cortana comes to the Xbox One - the voice or text search AI is scheduled for a preview sometime this year - it will include Kinect support. You'll also be able to use it with a headset and microphone or by typing in your search, he said.

"When we roll that out it will be a great experience for Kinect owners," he said.

But what about Kinect-supported games?

Nichols declined to say anything about them, other than none have been announced.