Here are all of my hands-on Xbox One articles, gathered in one place and updated as new articles appear. It's everything you need to know about Microsoft's new generation video game and entertainment console.
I'll keep this document updated as new articles are published.
Where Sony offers a solid video game experience with minimal non-gaming frills, the Xbox One turns things up to 11 with better games, a more fully realized living room entertainment experience and surprisingly solid Kinect functionality. While things may change over the lifetime of this console generation, at the launch it's no comparison: Xbox One is vastly superior to the PS4.
As an Xbox gamer for 12 years, it should come as no surprise that I've been looking forward to the Xbox One launch. And thanks to a wonderfully late UPS delivery, I really did wait a lot longer than I deemed necessary. But I'm finally up and running.
Like Windows 8.x, Windows Phone and Xbox 360, the Xbox One features a tile-based user experience. But the little differences can really trip you up. And while it will be some time before I feel truly comfortable with this new rendition of Microsoft's tile-based UX, here's what I've learned so far.
While Microsoft's Xbox Live online service has long supported various features related to your Xbox Live profile, those features vary from platform to platform. So it's no surprise, perhaps, that Xbox One expands on the profile features that were previous available on the Xbox 360. It also puts them up front and center.
You can't have a modern computing platform without an online store, so it's no surprise that Xbox One, like its predecessor, ships with an on-console Xbox Store. But Xbox One's Store experience is a bit difference than that of the Xbox 360, and there are some mostly positive differences.
One of things I was most eager to test on the Xbox One was the ability to purchase, download and install games—even new, AAA titles—directly on the console. And sure enough, it works, with caveats. But it's still the preferable option.
One of the more confusing and even controversial aspects to Xbox One is its ability to let users share their games between consoles. But how does this work? And how does this feature impact a family with multiple users and even multiple consoles?
As I noted in my review of the Sony PlayStation 4, the single biggest functional change in this new generation of consoles is their ability to multitask. This lets you immediately move between games, the console user interface, and other experiences. And of course Microsoft's new console one-ups the PS4 by also offering a unique take on multitasking, where you can do two things on-screen at the same time.
Microsoft's decision to base Xbox One on Windows 8 wasn't made lightly: This PC-based platform shares a common kernel, virtualization and platform capabilities and presents a familiar and well-understood face to developers. But the Windows 8 tie-in has other advantages, too: It's what powers Xbox One's multitasking capabilities. And it provides the console with advanced power management features similar to those on smart phones and tablets.
Hidden in a recent Xbox One system update is a great new feature called Instant Sign-In that lets you specify a user that will automatically sign-in when the system powered on. This is useful for those with multiple users configured, or for those who don't have a Kinect that will automatically sign-in the person sitting in front of the console.
While I've never been overly impressed with the utility of Kinect's gesture capabilities, I've often noted that the device's voice command functionality shows promise. And with the Xbox One, the promise mostly becomes a reality, with Kinect-based voice control one of the console's best features.
While I'm going to be looking at Kinect and voice control separately in the days and weeks ahead, I wanted to call out this one new Xbox One feature because it achieves something I thought impossible: It will make hard-core gamers love the Kinect. Using the simple voice command "Xbox, record that," you can now instantly record your best in-game moments as they happen. This is actually pretty transformative.
Microsoft announced today that it will sell a standalone version of Kinect for Xbox One starting in October. This release is of course aimed at customers who purchase a Kinect-less Xbox One console and then wish to upgrade later.
With the euphoria of Xbox One's first day behind us—over one million consoles sold to consumers, biggest launch in Xbox history, and so on—it's time to turn our attention to more pragmatic matters. For me, that means learning how this darn thing works. First up, the new Xbox One wireless controller.
Microsoft today announced that it will soon deliver an Xbox One Media Remote for controlling the playback of Blu-Ray movies/TV shows and streaming entertainment services with its new console. The device will retail for $25 in the United States when it ships on March 1.
The Xbox One Stereo Headset and a related Stereo Headset Adapter aren't the only new Xbox One hardware accessories to ship this month: Microsoft has also issued an Xbox One Media Remote, which is a must-have for anyone intending to use this console as their all-in-one living room media solution.
A few months after the launch of the Xbox One, Microsoft is finally starting to deliver a family of hardware accessories that really completes the picture for this new console. Among them are the Xbox One Stereo Headset and a related Stereo Headset Adapter, the latter of which lets you use your existing wired headset with the console.
Microsoft announced this week that it will ship a unique hardware accessory for Xbox One users in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK in October. The Xbox One Digital TV Tuner is a USB-based TV tuner that works with the free-to-air television content that is common in those countries. Best of all, it's cheap: About US $40.
Apps and connected services
In the days leading up to the launch of the Xbox One launch, Microsoft touted the inclusion of a SkyDrive app on the system. At the time, I compared what was described to what was already available on the Xbox 360 and discovered that Xbox One's SkyDrive functionality wasn't in fact all that improved. And now that I've had a chance to actually use it, I'm thoroughly unimpressed.
Xbox One includes a fairly full-featured version of Internet Explorer that looks and works much like the version you see in Windows 8. And that's no surprise, as it's basically the same browser.
The Xbox Music app on Xbox One combines Microsoft's multi-faceted online music service with its new all-in-one living room entertainment system, and it does so in interesting ways. Roughly analogous to Xbox Music for the web, the Xbox One version of the app is adapted to look and work well on an HDTV and be used with an Xbox One controller or Kinect-based voice commands.
It's interesting to see how Microsoft has reimagined key entertainment apps for Xbox One. Case in point, the new Xbox Video app, which features a clean presentation that takes minimalism to new heights.
Unique among the platforms supported by Xbox Music, Microsoft's Xbox 360 provides access to music videos. So when the Xbox One appeared sans music videos, I figured that was the end of that. But not so fast: Starting today, music videos are making a comeback on Xbox One.
Xbox One fans upset that Microsoft's new console debuted without any way to play media files from a USB drive or over their home networks will want to install the latest system update. This update includes a beta version of a new Media Player app, currently in beta, that promises to solve this problem. And it does so, sort of.
One of the weird limitations of the initial shipping version of Xbox One was that it was not possible to snap Skype next to another app and do something like chat with a friend while you played a game together. This week, however, Microsoft announced that this limitation has been fixed, and you can now use Skype with snap on Xbox One.
Today, Microsoft announced that 45 new entertainment apps—including eagerly awaited options like HBO GO, Showtime Anytime, and Comedy Central—will launch on Xbox One and Xbox 360 globally throughout 2014. The timing is interesting, given that Microsoft's E3 press conference is less than a week away. But it's clearly very good news.
Not sure what took 8 long months—and that's assuming you don't ding them for the months leading up to the product's launch—but Microsoft will finally make Xbox One-based game clips, achievements and other data accessible from the product's web presence at xbox.com. The good news? It's going live next week.
Microsoft has detailed the changes coming in the October 2014 System Update for Xbox One. Another big update, this one includes improvements to the Snap experience and TV, and several fan-requested features.
While Microsoft had previously detailed some of the changes it would deliver with the August 2014 System Update for Xbox One, the firm this week documented several more new features and changes. With a laundry list of improvements, this month's system update is now shaping up to be the biggest one since the console launched late last year.
As has been the case for several months now, Microsoft has provided a list of new features and changes coming in next month's System Update for Xbox One. There is no single major new feature, but there a bunch of excellent changes coming, including mobile purchases, low controller battery notifications, support for 3D Blu-Ray movies, some activity feed updates, and more.
Microsoft has provided a preview of what we can expect in the July 2014 System Update for Xbox One. And key among the new features is a Snap Mode support for Achievements, so you can see how you're progressing as you play a game.
While most Xbox One fans and users are currently focused on what is and is not in each month's system update, this isn't the only way that Microsoft keeps its new console up to date. At E3 earlier this month, the company announced a June 2014 update to its Xbox Development Kit, or XDK, as well. And this week, it finally explained how this release will improve performance in certain new games only.
Microsoft on Wednesday said that the June 2014 System Update for Xbox One has begun rolling out globally, bringing a number of new features, most notably external storage support, to the firm's new game and entertainment console. Additionally, a related System Update for Xbox 360 is also now rolling out.
The May 2014 System Update for Xbox One is now rolling out, so fire up your console to see what's changed. This month, the console gains a sound mixer for snapped apps, a Kinect chat volume mixer, and a few other minor improvements.
Microsoft revealed last night that it has started rolling out the April 2014 System Update for Xbox One. This update adds a number of new features to Microsoft's video game and entertainment console and is the first that was influenced by early-access beta tester feedback.
Get ready for that green progress bar when you boot up your Xbox One today: the March 2014 System Update is now rolling out. Here's what you can expect.
Starting this past weekend, Microsoft began rolling out the February 2014 System Update for Xbox One, its third major update for the new entertainment console. The firm had previously explained a few of the new features and functional changes coming in this release, but now we have a more complete picture.
Microsoft this week made available a major system update for its Xbox One entertainment console. This is the second such update, the first coming right before the public launch of the console and dubbed the Launch Day Update.