Today on Microsoft's official Xbox at E3 stream, Larry "Major Nelson" Hyrb and Xbox One Platform Manager Richard Irving gave a first look at some big changes coming to Xbox One this Fall — though Windows 10 users might notice quite a lot of familiar scenery. Microsoft is demoing a new UI for the Xbox One that looks remarkably like the Xbox app on Windows 10, and it's bringing other Windows elements with it in the form of Cortana, a digital assistant that responds to voice commands.
Immediately apparent is the absence of the Metro/tile-based design of the current Xbox One dashboard, which the system inherited from Windows 8 and 8.1. Instead, there's an emphasis on vertical navigation with horizontal options laid left to right for each item. Pins now sit below a list of recent activity, and social navigation is handled through a nav bar that can be invoked at any time, whether in-game or at the home screen by double tapping the Xbox button.
Hyrb and Irving stressed the speed and fluidity of the new interface in their demonstration, likely in acknowledgement of the consistent complaints of slowness and stutters by Xbox One owners, despite a steady stream of updates and features pushed to the console since its launch in 2013.
The pair also debuted Cortana integration on Xbox One for the first time, which allows for powerful verbal commands to be issued while playing. Going beyond the existing voice commands on the system, Cortana appears to respond to more nuanced queries, such as whether or not a friend is online, and to join a party with specific people on your friend list. Cortana also appears to support dictation for messages, allowing you to recite a message that can then be sent to people on your friends list rather than using an onscreen keyboard or Smartglass-enabled device.
The new Xbox One user experience should be available later this year for Xbox One owners.