Xbox One owners unite to spur Microsoft to improve system
"Things will get better," Major Nelson promises.
Switching on your next-gen console you might be surprised to notice it lacks some of the most-used features of its eight-year old predecessor. But that is the case with Xbox One, whose operating system trades many of the Xbox 360's system features for a leaner interface.
But rather than moan about it - or, at least, as well as moaning about it - early adopters have begun compiling suggestions for Microsoft to implement. And the company has taken notice.
XboxFeedback.com houses a list of issues and missed features which Reddit users have worked together to compile. It was even spotted by Microsoft mouthpiece Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb, who commented to say that its suggestions had been passed on to the relevant people.
The company has already stated that the Xbox One interface is just its first version and, like the Xbox 360, it will be refreshed throughout the console's lifespan. But the console's operating system seems aimed towards further homogenisation with Windows 8, and away from successful Xbox 360 features such as the Guide button. And this is where things run into problems.
Rather than having the system's features laid out in the Guide's single, simple interface, core pieces are now spread across separate apps. You must now return to the Home screen to individually load these features (your Friends list, Achievements, system settings) or snap these features using Kinect voice commands (although this doesn't work with everything).
Even within these apps, previously easy-to-reach features are now hard to find. Want to see which of your friends are online? You now need to load the Friends app, select "Friends" and click through to the system's confusing list of your acquaintances. Small green dots indicate who's actually online and who's not. This used to be on the Guide button, but was also part of the core desktop - accessible with a simple click of the right bumper.
The Guide could also be used to view recent met players - a feature which has been removed entirely. It's a shame, as it makes Microsoft's much-lauded player ratings system pretty much impossible to use without it.
Other missed features are even more inexplicable - there's no way to see your controller's battery life, there's no way to get notifications when a friend comes online, and you don't get a notification when other users add you as a friend.
A number of applications seem unfinished or lacking functionality which would make far more useful. The Xbox One's Upload Studio is a great addition, but viewing other people's content feels oddly passive. The console has an activity feed but no way of commenting or "liking" content from friends. And while the option to export videos to SkyDrive is nice, PlayStation 4 lets you share content directly to social networks and take static screenshots.
Avatars are seemingly only included so you can turn images of them into your Gamerpic. You can dress them in items you already own but, bizarrely, not buy more. For Xbox 360 users who spent money on props or worked to unlock in-game Awards it's a shame that this feature has been pushed to the background. Avatars made it a lot easier to browse your friends list and identify who was online.
The list of missed features continues - voice messages are gone, using an external USB for storage or reading media is gone, you can't play music in the background during games and there's no option for custom backgrounds.
Kinect, too, has unsurprisingly come under fire. Users report hearing private conversations from players who are unaware their Kinect microphone is listening during multiplayer games. Players have also suggested a greater amount of background noise - music, screaming babies - as gamers use the sensor rather than a headset to chat. The fact you can't now be auto-signed in without Kinect enabled has also been highlighted.
Factors like this epitomise Microsoft's approach to Xbox One. It's great if you use it in exactly the way Microsoft intended, but real life means you want more flexibility. Someone else comes in the room and you want the in-game chat limited to a headset? There's no longer an option to do that either.
It's the same with the much-discussed lack of any storage management option. "Xbox One was designed to make storage management automatic," Microsoft explained when users asked why they couldn't see how much hard drive space they had left. "By being smart about how storage is managed, Xbox One keeps everyone playing, watching, and sharing their entertainment content rather than worry about limitations. You can also see how much storage any app uses by pressing the menu button on that app." Which is fine until you come to install a game and find you can't, and then have to add up the file sizes of others by manually searching through them to see what you need to uninstall.
Will Microsoft take action on Xbox One owner's suggestions? "I had a meeting today about much of this and I can say that things will get better," Hryb wrote on Reddit today. "I can't offer a timeline of a list of what till be addressed first, but we are aware of the issue and things will get better."