Talking tech since 2003

Though we’re in the midst of CES 2014, with virtual reality headsets and affordable 4K monitors on display, there’s an expected quietness coming from Microsoft. As the company has pointed out in the past, they don’t need CES to make announcements – but they still have some Xbox One news to deliver.

“Whenever we want, we can talk about Xbox stuff and get coverage. Why try to talk with 100,000 other things going on?” Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten told Engadget in an interview this week.

However, Whitten’s in Las Vegas this week to meet with company-wide partners, and found it as good a time as any to “pop up and see an environmental scan you can get in an immediate dose.” But largely, he made a point to discuss the “seams” in the company’s current Xbox experience, and how they plan to change and enhance it very soon.

To Whitten and his team, the first fix on the checklist is what they refer to as “the Live experience,” referring to Xbox Live, a service Whitten has personally been working on for about a decade.

“The feedback we’ve gotten is pretty valid; some of the social stuff is hidden or harder to use than it was on the Xbox 360. So you’re gonna see us come out with an update where, well, we’re going to fix those things. As a person who’s been pretty involved in building Xbox Live for the last decade, I take it pretty seriously when people say it’s harder to get into a party, and the defaults aren’t right, and I don’t like the model. So what I’m trying to do with the team is kind of theme some stuff up. Let’s take an update and really go through a big list of what we’re hearing from customers, what we know is broken with the architecture, areas that we want to improve or complete. I think that’s a theme you’ll really see us push on — that Live experience.”

The long-awaited Twitch streaming functionality of the Xbox One is still “not 100 percent” according to Whitten, but he seemed to hint that the feature would land sometime before June.

“But my general strategy at E3 is to talk about things that are gonna happen from that E3 to the next E3. So, we are not yet to the next E3.”

So far as downloadable console updates go, they will come to the Xbox One at a more rapid pace than the Xbox 360, due in part to the console’s more modern architecture and design, and Microsoft’s less-horrendous certification process compared to what it had with the Xbox 360.

“The Xbox 360, which I’m still very, very proud of, the software architecture was built in 2003. Rethinking [updates] based on everything we learned from 360 was a lot of what went into the Xbox One. You’re still gonna see the big, ‘Hey, here’s the cool stuff we’re doing.’ But you’re also gonna see the box just get better faster than you did in the past.”

Additionally, Whitten thinks apps and television content will release “pretty quickly,” and scaling some of those features to more international audiences will be a large part of that.

And while all of that sounds fine and good, there’s simply no telling just how soon all of this will arrive. Let’s hope it’s real soon.


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