Another redesign and another loss for Cortana
Microsoft is once again tweaking its Xbox One dashboard design and removing the Cortana digital assistant. The software maker has started experimenting with what it describes as a more “streamlined user interface” for the home section of the Xbox One dashboard. This is the area you immediately see when you power on an Xbox One console. The new design includes quicker access to Xbox Game Pass titles, Microsoft’s Mixer service, Xbox Community feature, and the Microsoft Store.
“We’ve heard your feedback and have continued to iterate on Home to get you into your gaming experiences faster and keeping more of your content front and center,” explains Bradley Rossetti, Microsoft’s Xbox Insider chief. “With this new experimental Home design, the first thing you’ll notice is we’ve removed the Twists from the top of Home in favor of separate buttons that launch your gaming experiences.”
This should make it easier to access frequently used games on the home screen. Microsoft is testing this new home screen with Xbox Insiders in the Alpha and Alpha Skip Ahead rings, and the company is looking for feedback. Microsoft has tweaked its Xbox One dashboard multiple times since the console launched, trying to improve the often clunky user experience. There was a Fluent Design update back in 2017 and a big redesign in 2015 that preceded a new focus on speed.
Alongside this latest home update, Microsoft is also removing Cortana from the Xbox One. Microsoft says it’s moving to cloud-based assistants, meaning “you can no longer talk to Cortana via your headset.” You’ll still be able to power on an Xbox One through the Xbox Skill for Cortana on iOS, Android, or Windows, just like the existing Alexa integration.
It’s no surprise to see Cortana disappearing from the Xbox One. Microsoft has a new focus for Cortana on more business-related scenarios, and the company is working on making Cortana better at holding conversations. Microsoft also previously decoupled Cortana from search in the recent Windows 10 May 2019 Update, and now the company is bringing Cortana to the Microsoft Store as a separate app. Removing Cortana from the Xbox is another step in the digital assistant’s demise on the consumer side of Microsoft’s software and services.