Home Gaming Microsoft Sneakily Kills Major Xbox One Feature

Microsoft Sneakily Kills Major Xbox One Feature

In an interview out today, Microsoft confirms that it’s planning to kill off a major feature of the Xbox One. Since 2013 Xbox One owners have been able to navigate the entertainment console’s entire interface with just a wave of their hand if they have a Kinect sensor. Soon, that won’t be an option for anyone.

Microsoft’s Mike Nichols confirms that the New Xbox One Experience doesn’t support gestures in an interview session with Polygon. Nichols is Microsoft’s chief marketing officer for the Xbox platform and services. The revelation came Nichols answered questions about how many Xbox One owners use a Kinect sensor to interact with the console. At launch, Microsoft bundled a Kinect sensor with every Xbox One console so that buyers could use their hands to navigate the interface and their voice to go from menu to menu or start a game.

windows 10 on xbox one

The sensor also lets the Xbox One communicate with television sets and audio equipment. Microsoft began selling Xbox Ones without a Kinect sensor last year to get the console’s price down to $349.

“Now we’re not designing for everyone who has it or everyone doesn’t have it. We’re designing for a good chunk who have it and use it and some new customers who now have decided to get an Xbox One who don’t have a Kinect, at least not yet.”

Nichols says, “That [Kinect gesture support for the interface] currently exists in the Xbox One experience, but we found so few people use it. Why should we keep designing for that scenario?”

He poses a fair question. Microsoft originally pushed the Kinect as a new way of interacting with Xbox. Back then the company hoped to be the only living room entertainment console that users needed. At its Xbox One Revealed event in 2013 Microsoft revealed that the Xbox One would have live television integration for users to manage their cable or satellite boxes with and music and video apps that allow users to play game while watching television or a video on YouTube.

Since the whole family would use an Xbox One, the Kinect would sign them in automatically and show them their stuff. It’s a future that never came to pass. Microsoft didn’t have any Kinect specific games ready for shoppers at launch and did a pretty poor job at telling people Kinect gestures were something that could use. Microsoft still sells Kinect bundles, but also has a separate Kinect for users who want to purchase it to improve their gaming and entertainment experience after they’ve picked up a cheap Xbox One bundle.

If there aren’t a lot of people taking advantage of the feature it makes sense to get rid of it. Microsoft began letting video game developers snatch away power from Kinect gestures last year. After that update developers could tell the Xbox One that their game didn’t require Kinect gestures to function. Voice commands still worked in these apps, but gestures didn’t. To use a gesture players had to go back to the Xbox One Dashboard. Microsoft also stopped requiring app makers to support Kinect gestures too, it seems.

To be clear, it seems Microsoft is keeping voice gestures around, though it doesn’t discuss how many Kinect owners use that feature either. Microsoft does seem to be invested in providing voice support. We already know that the New Xbox One Experience will pick up Microsoft’s Cortana digital personal assistant sometime in the new year. Cortana does use Kinect to listen for voice commands. It seems that users will be able to use Cortana with their chat headset too. Polygon confirms as much in its report.

Read: Windows 10 on Xbox One: What’s New & Different

The Xbox One is on sale now for $349, with a half-dozen or so new bundles coming for the Holiday 2015 shopping season. The New Xbox One Experience arrives as a mandatory Xbox One update for all this November.

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13 Comments

  1. Penny

    10/18/2015 at 8:55 am

    No One cares about that

    Reply

  2. anonymous

    10/18/2015 at 3:54 pm

    Let’s be clear , Microsoft is killing Kinect! Shame on Microsoft!!!

    Reply

  3. mascondante

    10/18/2015 at 8:43 pm

    Effing you Microsoft. I was hoping for them to fix Kinect issues not say eff it and drop features.

    Reply

  4. Microshafted

    10/18/2015 at 11:58 pm

    I use kinect voice a lot. I have to coz I’m on my 3rd Xbox One controller, which is also playing up. I refuse to buy another, so eff em. Never again.

    Reply

  5. Jeff Ketcher

    10/19/2015 at 9:38 am

    I too was wishing they would’ve fixed the issues with kinect. I love using hand gestures to maneuver through the menu. Just sucks for us because Microsoft stood behind the kinect 100% and are now ditching it. Makes me think if I should even invest in an oculus rift when it comes out, or will they ditch that too if people can’t afford it or it has too many bugs.

    Reply

  6. Damian Eaglebauer

    10/19/2015 at 11:58 am

    “Beak a deal, face the wheel”, Microsoft. Just another example, people don’t like to be lied to , mislead , then betrayed. Baited and switched. Developers force to move to a new platform requiring lots of work and a 30% royalty. Noone uses the windows store still. I dont see much good in there its junk. I always use the desktop version.. Its always better. Another example: Silverlight. Now not supported on Edge, Chrome, and was never preinstalled. That api is the way to make Apps for the barren app stpre . So why should we continue to use that api afer they killed it as version 5 with no replacement ? HTML5 is not anything like it. The code we make can go into the windows 8-10, but why should we bother? Window 7 will still be around for years. So most people dropped it. Cancels years of code development.. Just kiled it and wrote it off They will never, even come back. MFST. . treat your customers like shit, treat your developers like shit. break a deal, face the wheel. Should be downright illegal.. Should get a statement in writing before adopting a technology that it will be supported until 2021, etc. ( Silverlight runs, but barely) . Microsoft, its not too late to change your evil ways.

    Reply

  7. Clarity

    10/22/2015 at 7:04 am

    Damn I actually liked controlling my XB1 minority report style-y, admittedly as of late I have had my Kinect disconnected because it keeps shutting its self off, I don’t know if the preview updates are doing it or whether it’s just overheating

    Reply

  8. Jason

    10/23/2015 at 4:12 am

    Unbelievable! They ignore all the Kinnect users problems & just drop us? Most people with the Kinnect issues (turning off, not recognised, sporadic on, off, on, off, etc,) were early buyers & big fans. Microsoft simply ignore the problem or advise fixes that just don’t work. Terrible customer service and borderline fraudulent selling!

    Reply

  9. j

    11/03/2015 at 8:56 am

    Well done MS. This is the classic bait and switch. I paid extra for kinect BECAUSE of the cool things it could.

    Selling it on eBay now, because PS4 is on equal footing now

    Reply

  10. jb

    11/13/2015 at 8:28 am

    Disappointed! I have a son with cerebral palsy and one of my goals to help him become independent is to teach him how to do the hand gestures since his speech is profoundly affected. I’m sure there are other special needs customers out there that bought an XBONE because of the relatively cheap way to provide accessibility options. I hope that Microsoft hears from its customers like me on how disappointing it is to cut off something that is being used and does provide a benefit to some of its users. Please bring back its full functionality on a future update!

    Reply

  11. grxxnnxnja

    12/02/2015 at 1:46 am

    New UI no one wanted…

    Everyone – tell me where my Favourites (my carefully selected list of shortcuts to things I actually use!) is now located…? Answer? At the bottom of the menu 5+ menu switches away. No longer handy or useful.

    As a design choice, changing things from one side of the screen to the other is not clever or ingenious, but it certainly wastes a lot of money and time, previous planning (more time/money disposed of) goes out the window and now we’re stuck with this less than brilliant turd.

    At least include a ‘classic’ setting for putting it back how it was!!! Or even let me move large chunks of UI about to make it something I find useful.

    As it is, I’m unimpressed. Anything that happened ‘under the hood’ could still be applied without the stupid ‘move everything somewhere dumb’

    …have they added ‘subtitles’ to the media player yet? That’d be handy. How about 1 media player instead of media player, bluray player, etc being separated?

    Kinect – Kill it. Was never impressed. I’m sure it’s handy for people like JB (“have a son with cerebral palsy and one of my goals to help him become independent is to teach him how to do the hand gestures”) but it doesn’t work well with two or more people in the room. It’s microphone seems to be on as long as Kinect is (I never bothered checking deeper, just unplugged it and forgot about it altogether) which is pretty invasive when someone else is playing a game and you happen to be chatting about something personal… WITH ALL OF CALL OF DUTY LISTENING IN!!! awesome.

    Microsoft – read this, then revoke your new crappy UI.

    Reply

  12. Michael

    01/29/2016 at 9:37 am

    “If there aren’t a lot of people taking advantage of the feature it makes sense to get rid of it. ” umm, no, it does NOT “make sense to get rid of it”, that’s like saying “well, Ford sold a bunch of cars with cruise control, but so few people were using it they decided to remotely de-activate it on all of their cars” THAT IS NOT UP TO THE VENDOR TO MAKE THAT DECISION! I was sold a product that could do X, Y and Z, if OTHER PEOPLE aren’t using X with THEIR product that is THEIR business and entirely does NOT justify DELETING an EXISTING feature that does nobody any harm by continuing to be there from MY experience with a product I shelled out over $400 to buy!

    I actually reveled in being able to use my console for multimedia; Pandora, Youtube, Netflix, someone wanna tell me how the hell I’m supposed to pause a blasting song or a movie with explosions going on WITH MY VOICE? Also now there is NO WAY to skip to the end of a long movie or video! Got a 4 hour long movie on netflix and you want to get 3 hours into it? Have fun FAST-FORWARDING THROUGH IT! With hand gestures you could just point and click and be there. THIS IS THE EQUIVALENT OF REMOVING MOUSE SUPPORT FROM ALL YOUR COMPUTERS, THIS IS THE MOST BACKWARDS, UNDERHANDED AND RETARDED EVENT (literally; HUGE step backwards) IN THE HISTORY OF TECHNOLOGY!

    Reply

  13. George Flannagan

    02/14/2016 at 7:11 pm

    this is just BS. it was a cool feature that I used a lot of the time and its dumb to take it away. i love my xbox but honestly playstation is whooping xboxs butt right now.

    Reply

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