Microsoft’s Windows 10 update to bring Cortana and TV DVR to the Xbox One

The Xbox One just got smarter. At an event at Gamescom yesterday, Microsoft announced new details of its forthcoming Windows 10 update. Alongside a raft of visual improvements, the update will bring new features to the games console, including a TV DVR and Windows 10’s Cortana.

The update is planned for consoles in November, and should be available for testers next month. However, Xbox owners will have to wait longer for the new TV DVR functionality, as Microsoft say it will be introduced next year.

A new dashboard and Cortana

Microsoft has gone through numerous iterations of the Xbox One dashboard, but this is the biggest change to date. First unveiled at E3, the new dashboard is powered by Windows 10, and allows gamers easily switch between activities. There’s also a new Community section to catch up with friends, an improved activity feed and a “Trending on Xbox Live” tab that groups all of the most popular content on the Xbox network together.

As you’d expect, the dashboard has had a massive aesthetic overhaul, with Microsoft looking to unify the user interface of its products throughout the home.

The Xbox One dashboard also includes Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana. Controlled through the Kinect sensor, Cortana performs the same role it does on Windows 10, and acts as a quick and easy shortcut to menu items, searches and much more. Interestingly, it’s also an indication that Microsoft isn’t finished with Kinect just yet.

TV DVR

xbox_one_tv_dvrMicrosoft announced TV DVR functionality for the Xbox One at the same Gamescom event. Coming in 2016, the feature will allow consoles with an optional Digital TV Tuner to record television – turning Xbox One into a DVR. The TV DVR feature will also be compatible with external hard drives, so users can easily manage their recordings and game saves.

Furthermore, users will be able to schedule recordings from any Windows 10 devices and streams, or download them from the Xbox for offline watching. Significantly, the TV DVR functionality will also be added to Microsoft’s Smartglass app, available for iOS and Android. This means almost every smartphone owner will be able to use all the new TV DVR features of the Xbox One remotely.

A smart move

Although the move may not be enough for the Xbox One to beat the strong performance of the PlayStation 4, it’s a sign that Microsoft has begun to reward users of its ecosystem. By giving Xbox One owners access to Cortana and the possibility of streaming to Windows, Microsoft is making its system look even more attractive.

Throw in the ability to use SmartGlass with the new TV DVR features, and it seems Microsoft has finally begun to embrace other platforms, while effectively promoting its own.

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