Xbox Product Manager Ivy Krislov recently joined Larry Hryb on the Official Xbox Podcast to discuss the new Xbox Home experience being tested by Xbox Insiders, and saw Hryb close the door on the return of the lame interface.
Microsoft recently released the first iteration of its new Xbox home screen to select Xbox Insiders, though it won’t be fully implemented until 2023. To discuss the new “Home Experience,” Xbox Product Manager Iver Krislov joined Larry Hryb, AKA Major Nelson, on the Official Xbox Podcast. If you’re not a fan of the current UI being tested, you might be pleased to know that there are two more versions to test, but it looks like only the bottom of the screen will be changed – and we’ve definitely won I don’t see the blades coming back.
Microsoft has two additional Xbox dashboard variants to test
“No, you can’t have the blades back,” Hryb said. “They were nice, nice, but you can’t have them back because they don’t fit, as we say in business, what we want to do.” The “blades” dashboard originally shipped with the first Xbox 360 in 2005 and featured the console’s menus on separate tabs bordered by a pair of silver blades that made a “whoosh” sound whenever you flipped through them. To this day, it’s one of the most distinctive things that made the console great.
The new Home experience, while lacking the blades, is designed to give you everything you need on one screen when you turn on the console, while scrolling down will bring up various lists of Xbox Game Pass titles and other games to buy. The idea is to simplify your browsing experience, such as by pulling the store, settings, and search pages and placing them front and center on the dashboard. “We really see this as an evolution of the current home,” Krislov said. “Taking a lot of the things we’ve done well previously and building on them.”
Microsoft’s engineering team has been laying the groundwork for this update for the past year, streamlining feedback processes for Xbox Insiders. “Something many Xbox fans may not know; typically, it can take us about three months to test very small features,” Krislov said. “Our hope is that by building this infrastructure, we can test things, get your feedback, iterate and come back with something even better.”
The current version Insiders is testing is the first of three planned versions of the dashboard, and Krislov’s team doesn’t expect to have the final version ready until “towards the end of this calendar year,” so a lot can change in that time, depending of feedback – “the feedback we’ve gotten so far with the test has been that the top row hides the dynamic backgrounds a little more than some customers would like,” Krislov said. “We have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow (September 17) to look at all this feedback.”
When discussing what’s shown when you scroll down on the home page, Krislov notes that “most customers today have their default content blocks like Store, Community, Game Pass, etc., and then they’ll have maybe one or two fixed. games they really care about.” Other content blocks like Clubs and Friends are used much less often, and since most people don’t use the bottom of the dashboard, Microsoft is looking to make better use of the space.
“People don’t scroll as often because they’ll jump right into games from the top of Home, which makes perfect sense,” Krislov said. “We started by building the infrastructure where we can put different channels of play with curation, with customization and with customization in front of the customer. As we progress through these tests, which we are now in the first, but we have two more planned, [we’ll be] adding different types of content, so for example, for customers who use their console to watch TV, we’ll add a media experience – one of the most common groups pinning on Home is people pinning the apps they want to engage with look at the tv “
The next dashboard test is planned for release in October to Xbox Insiders, so we’ll see what changes the team has implemented then based on feedback from the Insiders program. I recently wrote about some of the fan-made concepts of other dashboard variants and took a poll to see what you think about the one Microsoft is currently testing. Of the 1,156 votes we received, 482 (41.7%) of you voted to “bin it”, while 25% of voters think it’s “okay”.
Are you looking forward to seeing the project grow throughout the rest of this year? Leave a comment below and let us know!