Xbox Product Manager Ivy Krislov recently joined Larry Hryb on the official Xbox Podcast to discuss the new Xbox Home experience being tested by Xbox Insiders, and saw Hryb closing the door upon the return of the Blades interface.
Microsoft recently rolled out the first iteration of its all-new Xbox Home screen to select Xbox Insiders, but it won’t be fully rolled out until 2023. To discuss the new “Home Experience”, Xbox Product Manager Iver Krislov joined Larry Hryb, AKA Major Nelson, for the official Xbox Podcast. If you’re not a fan of the UI currently being tested, you might be pleased to know there are two other versions to test, but it looks like only the bottom of the screen will be changed – and we definitely won won’t see the blades return.
Microsoft has two additional variants of the Xbox desktop to test
“No, you can’t get the blades back,” said Harry. “They were lovely, they were nice, but you can’t get them back because they don’t scale, as we say in the industry, to what we want to do.” The “blades” dashboard originally shipped with the first Xbox 360 consoles in 2005 featured the console’s menus on separate tabs surrounded by a pair of silver blades that made a “humming” sound each time. To this day, it’s one of the most standout things that made the console great.The new Home environment, while lacking blades, is designed to give you everything you need on one screen when you boot up your console, while scrolling down will bring up a variety of curated lists of Xbox Game Pass titles and other games to buy. The idea is to streamline your browsing by, for example, dragging the store, settings, and search pages and placing them in the front and center of the dashboard. “We really think this is an evolution of the current House,” said Krislov. “We take a lot of things that we did well before and build on them.”
Microsoft’s engineering team has laid the groundwork for this update over the past year, streamlining the feedback process for Xbox Insiders. “Something many Xbox fans may not know; Typically, testing really small features can take us around three months, ”said Krislov. “We hope that by building this infrastructure we can test things, get feedback, iterate and come back to you with something even better.”
The current version being tested by Insiders is the first of three planned versions of the dashboard, and Krislov’s team doesn’t expect the final version to be ready by “at the end of this calendar year”, so a lot could change during this time depending on the feedback – ” The feedback we have received so far in the test is that the top row obscures the dynamic backgrounds a little more than some customers would like, ”said Krislov. “We have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow (September 17) to look at all this feedback.”
Discussing what is displayed after scrolling down the home page, Krislov notes that “today most customers have their default content blocks like Store, Community, Game Pass etc. and then they may have one or two pinned games on they really care. ” Other content blocks like Clubs and Friends are used much less frequently, and since most people don’t use the bottom of the dashboard, Microsoft wants to make better use of the space.
“People don’t scroll that often because they will jump straight to the games from the top of the house, which makes sense,” said Krislov. “We started by building an infrastructure where we can put different game channels with selection, personalization and customization in front of the client. As you progress on these tests we’re in the first at the moment, but plan two more, [we’ll be] by adding different types of content, for example for customers who use the console to watch TV, we will add multimedia support – one of the most common pinned groups on the home page is people pinning the apps they want to watch TV from. “
The next Xbox Insider Dashboard test is scheduled for October, so we’ll see the changes the team rolled out back then based on feedback from the Insiders program. We recently wrote about some of the fan-made concepts for other dashboard variants and conducted a poll to see what you think about which Microsoft is currently testing. Of the 1,156 votes we received, 482 (41.7%) voted “thrown into the trash”, while 25% of voters thought it was “okay”.
Are you excited to see how the project develops throughout the rest of this year? Leave a comment below and let us know!