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Xbox One system software

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Xbox One system software

Xbox One system software
Xbox One system software
Developer Microsoft
OS family Windows, Hyper-V, Windows 8-based, Xbox OS[1]
Working state Current
Source model Closed source
Initial release 6.2.9781.0 (xb_rel_flash1307.130829-1800)[2] / November 22, 2013 (2013-11-22)
Latest release 6.2.13332.0 (xb_rel_1508.150903-2141) / September 9, 2015 (2015-09-09)[2]
Latest preview 10.0.10585.1001 (th2_xbox_rel_1510.151031-1900) / November 2, 2015 (2015-11-02)[3]
Available in
Update method Direct Download
USB Recovery[5]
Platforms Xbox One
Preceded by Xbox 360 (system software)
Official website

Xbox One system software, sometimes called Xbox OS, is the operating system for the Xbox One.[6] It is a Windows based operating system using Hyper-V virtual machine monitor and contains separate operating systems for games and applications that can run on the console.[1] It is located on the internal HDD for day-to-day usage, while also being duplicated on the internal NAND storage of the console for recovery purposes and factory reset functionality.

Since launch, Microsoft has been updating the OS monthly, with updates downloaded from the Xbox Live service directly to the Xbox One and subsequently installed, or by using offline recovery images downloaded via a PC.[5]

The Xbox One allows users to download applications that add to the functionality of the dashboard. From June 2014 onwards, entertainment apps no longer require the user to be signed into a valid Xbox Live Gold account in order to use the features advertised for the given app.[7]



The original Xbox One consoles run on an operating system that includes the Windows 8 core. The Xbox One system software includes a heavily modified Hyper-V hypervisor as its host OS and two partitions. One of the partitions, the "Exclusive" partition is a custom virtual machine (VM) for games; the other partition, the "Shared" partition is a custom VM for running multiple apps. The Shared Partition is originally running the Windows 8 Core, but Microsoft is planning to upgrade that Windows 8 Core to a Windows 10 one in November 2015 via a regular Xbox One system update. One obvious reason Microsoft is planning to move the Xbox One to the Windows 10 core is to make it easier and cheaper for the company's Windows team to develop, update and maintain the operating system. Microsoft has been moving gradually toward its long-promised goal of running "One Windows" across all of its different devices. The other reason is that Microsoft wants OneCore, one increasingly common set of programming interfaces and developer tools across different devices and try to get more developers to write Universal Windows apps. By making it so developers can write a single app core for Windows 10 which will be adaptable across all these device types.[8]

Starting in February 2014, Microsoft invited select users to join a preview program that enables them to receive early builds of upcoming system updates and experiment with the features prior to the public launch of the software. Once registered for the Xbox One Preview Program, participants will be able to test the early features included in the update and provide feedback on a private forum and can opt out of future waves.[9] Through its Xbox Feedback website, Microsoft has been soliciting input from consumers on its features and taking requests for future additions to the console. Low battery notifications and Blu-ray 3D support are two examples of ideas that have been among the top vote-getters on the site.[10]

User interface

The Xbox One user interface may be described in one word as "simple". Rather than explicitly separating features into different tabs as on the Xbox 360 console, the menu is now a grid of square and rectangular items that scrolls as a continuous horizontal line, using the Metro interface.[11] It is a setup that will be immediately comfortable to anyone who has used Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8, and the explicit similarities are designed to provide "familiarity" to many users. In general, the top level menu of the Xbox One feels a lot less cluttered than the Xbox 360's dashboard. For example, the friends tab has been removed and replaced with a dedicated app that users can load up to see what their connections are doing. There are a couple of columns for settings options and an area for "pinned" favorites, a "main" screen showing current and recent apps and games that the user played or used, and a small "What's New" section highlighting some recently added content. In total, the interface is very clean and sparse.[12]

At the same time when Microsoft is planning to upgrade the Windows 8-based Core to a Windows 10 one, they are making a complete redesign of the Xbox One user interface. Microsoft has a tour of the new user interface up on Xbox Wire, promising faster, easier navigation, improved community features and, notably, the return of Xbox Avatars. The main feature on the home screen will be a list of most recently played games. Selecting any given title will give users more information about announcements, achievements, social activity and so forth, which bears a certain resemblance to the PlayStation 4 console by Sony. It is also more focused on the actual games they are playing, which is part and parcel of the company’s new direction under Phil Spencer, the current head of Microsoft's Xbox division. As part of the company-wide rollout of Windows 10, the new operating system may change how Xbox works and interacts with the rest of the ecosystem. The new user interface will arrive on November 12, 2015.[13]

Multimedia features

While like other video game consoles the Xbox One is primarily designed for playing games, it is more than a game console. It is an entertainment hub for games, television, music, and videos. Mainly the console focuses on functionality and entertainment as a whole. At Gamescom 2014 Microsoft unveiled a new plan to remedy this and make earnest on the Xbox One’s label as the "all-in-one entertainment" solution by way of expanding its media support. The Xbox One's media player is quite similar to the Xbox 360's playback suite in terms of form and function, however the newer console now supports more than 30 formats including the MKV container and GIF files. The Xbox One console also does some unique things. For example, its owners can control their television broadcasts using the device, as well as use it as a functioning DVR.[14] Apart from streaming music and videos via Play (Charms > Devices > Play), there is also a networked approach. There are two primary ways to do this. The first is to stream media from a computer or tablet, and the second is to play it directly off of a USB flash drive. The advantage of this method over the Play system is that users can do it all from wherever they sit via the Xbox One, instead of sending the video from a PC to their console.[15] Aside from multimedia files, Xbox One plays CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, and it also comes with DLNA and MKV support, which means that downloaded video files can be streamed via the PC or transported via external hard drive and USBs. Meanwhile, the interactive TV Guide allows users to turn on and control television with their voice. Furthermore, the system comes with a comprehensive range of applications related to multimedia features. In the United States, video channels include for example the Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, Hulu Plus and Netflix. Microsoft had announced that the Xbox One was awarded for its multimedia capabilities at the 66th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards in early 2015, and the prize was given for the Xbox One's television-on-demand functions.[16]

Backward compatibility

The Xbox One was not backwards compatible with either the original Xbox or the Xbox 360 console at launch,[17] and Microsoft had admitted that attempts to use cloud streaming to allow Xbox 360 games to be played on Xbox One proved to be "problematic".[18] However, during its E3 press conference on June 15, 2015, Microsoft announced plans to introduce Xbox 360 backward compatibility using the software method on the Xbox One.[19] Supported Xbox 360 games will run within a software emulator provided by the updated system software, implementing both the hardware and software of the Xbox 360. Xbox One recording and broadcasting features will be supported, along with Xbox 360 multiplayer, achievements, and cloud save access.[20]

Unlike Xbox 360's emulation of the original Xbox, games will not have to be specifically patched but will need to be repackaged in the Xbox One format.[21][22][23] Users' digitally-purchased games will automatically appear in their library for download once available.[19] Games on physical media will not be executed directly from disc; inserting the disc will initiate a download of a repackaged version. As with Xbox One titles,[24] the disc must be inserted during play for validation purposes.[19][21]

At least 100 Xbox 360 games will be officially supported and available for the feature's public launch alongside the November 2015 Xbox One system update,[25] and Xbox One preview program members received early access with a limited number of titles upon the announcement.[26][27] Microsoft expects the number of supported games to increase significantly over time, but not all Xbox 360 games will be supported—this explicitly includes any games that require Kinect or access to USB peripherals.[28]

Xbox division head Phil Spencer has stated that the idea of possibly adding support for games from the original Xbox was not "silly", but that the Xbox division is focusing on Xbox 360 compatibility first.[29]

History of updates

Along with introducing improvements and fixes for native console apps and software, the monthly updates to the Xbox One system software introduce major features that are voted on or requested by the community,[30] though some months have included more than one update. Starting in February 2014, beta releases of updates are tested[31] before going live to check for unwanted bugs and stability.[32]

On the day of the console's launch in 2013, a system update was released to remove the controversial always-online DRM announced at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2013. This DRM would have required the Xbox One to connect to the Internet at least once every twenty-four hours, or else games would cease to function. After a wave of backlash from gamers and press alike, Microsoft was forced to reverse its policies regarding this, but early users had to go online at least once to receive this patch.[33][34]

The February 2014 update introduced the ability to see how much hard disk space is available. It also introduced support for USB keyboards, enabling users to plug a keyboard into their console, thus eliminating the need to use the on-screen keyboard.[35] Over a year later, in July 2015, Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox team, vowed that mouse support would be added sometime in the future as part of cross-platform gameplay between Windows 10 devices and the Xbox One console.[36]

The March 2014 update added support for video output at 50 frames per second rather than 60, allowing smoother video on 50 Hz displays common in Europe. In the United States, refresh rates on screens are higher (60 Hz) than in Europe.[37]

In June 2014, support was added for external hard drives of 256 gigabytes or more, allowing two to be connected to the console at a time via USB 3.0.[38]

As part of the July 2014 update, consoles could better understand voice commands spoken in different accents and dialects of English and German.[39] A month later, purchases from the official Xbox website and the SmartGlass app were enabled, allowing for easier content purchasing.[40]

In the October 2014 update, a media player app was added with support for many formats and codecs, including the Matroska container, as well as DLNA streaming from other networked devices.[41]

In March 2015, a new screenshot feature was added to the console along with tile transparency, allowing owners to share game screenshots online or use one as a menu background.[42]

In April 2015, due to criticisms of the power consumption needed for the Instant-On feature, a system update prompted users to select between Instant-On and an energy saving mode. Instant-On had been enabled by default in the U.S., drawing criticism from the Natural Resources Defense Council.[43]

During the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015 in June, Microsoft discussed three major features that would come to consoles by the end of 2015: Windows 10 streaming, Xbox 360 backwards compatibility, and an interface redesign known as the New Xbox One Experience.[44] In advance of the public release of Windows 10, a July 2015 update let users stream games from their Xbox One to any device running Windows 10, a feature announced in January 2015.[45] The service streams only to one device at a time.[46]

See also

Other gaming platforms from this generation:


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Xbox Preview Dashboard app. Microsoft. Accessed 2015-11-02.
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  8. ^ Microsoft to update Xbox One consoles with Windows 10 core in November
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  11. ^ The Xbox One Proves Microsoft Needs to Reign In Metro
  12. ^ Xbox One interface a clean slate inspired by Windows 8
  13. ^ Microsoft Is Totally Redesigning The Xbox One User Interface
  15. ^ How to stream your video collection from a PC to the Xbox One
  16. ^ Xbox One Wins Emmy For Media Capabilities
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External links

  • Xbox One system software changelog
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