Xbox One to Get New Features, (Eventually) Expand into New Markets

Xbox One to Get New Features, (Eventually) Expand into New Markets

Like taking medicine with a little bit of honey

Yes, really. September.

Check your calendar, folks, as its still March. That means that Microsoft will continue to artificially cripple Xbox One sales during almost its entire first year in the market. And that makes no sense at all.

Looking over the announcement, Microsoft doesn't explain why the new launches won't happen for so long. They're just "proud" to share that Xbox One will be available in 26 additional markets in September of this year.

Amazing. Those markets, by the way, are Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and UAE.

Not upset yet? Consider this: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland were all supposed to be part of the original 2013 launch, but Microsoft in August last year chopped them off the list. At the time, Microsoft said it would provide a free "pack-in game" with the console for those who preordered Xbox One in the affected countries, but it didn't address this game in today's announcement, instead noting that it would "have much more to share at a local level towards the end of April."

OK, enough of the depressing stuff. Here's some good news.

In a separate announcement, Microsoft also revealed that it will be adding a number of features to Xbox One that are based on feedback during a private beta program. Suddenly, the company has gotten the feedback bug again.

"We will continue to push new features and other updates to these folks to explore and we'll be trying new things with the UI, like notifications, different ways of discoverability, and a bunch of other ideas the team is working on," the announcement notes. "Through this process, some features will launch, others might not and all will be refined through feedback. We value your feedback and want your help shaping the future of Xbox One."

So, in the April 2014 System Update, Microsoft will be adding the following features to Xbox One:

Game and app saves and updates. A game save progress bar will show you the status of your game saves. You will also be able to easily tell what games and apps are being updated or have been updated recently.

Friends improvements. Notifications will be added to see when favorites and friends sign in to Xbox Live. This actually was one of the most frequently requested features from the first preview wave and Microsoft made it a priority to include it in the April update. Also, friends who are in multiplayer will be identified in the friends list. Microsoft will also add the ability to view friends' most popular apps.

Kinect voice and motion improvements will continue to fine tune the quality and reliability of Xbox One commands.

Improved GameDVR video quality through compression algorithm improvements.

Interesting, Microsoft also hints at one future, post-April update: The ability to access content on USB storage devices. "We know external hard drive storage is still a big [area of feedback] and we've promised before it's on our list," the post notes. "I assure you that it still is."

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