Hands-on with the Fluent Design Xbox One dashboard (video)

For those who don't know, the Fluent Design System is Microsoft's latest iteration of their design language, which focuses on motion, light, and translucency. The idea is to create a design language that can transcend platforms and paradigms, including things like virtual reality, holograms, and beyond.

On Xbox One, it represents yet another major overhaul of the dashboard, adding refreshed aspects to the Guide, adding translucent materials to interactive elements, and a new glow effect when selecting different items. It also brings about various other small design tweaks and changes, including a brand new Community section, and the ability to pin both games and people as new content blocks, which offer rich contextual information.

We've been hands on with the latest Xbox Alpha Ring build which brings us the earliest look at these new features.

Of course, this is the Alpha Ring, so expect bugs and other minor issues ⸺ but know that the design philosophy is sound. While I'm not a fan of the "suggested friend" boxes and the combination of ads and personal content on the top of the home screen, the new customizable content blocks should prove incredibly useful for keeping track of friends and staying up to date with games. They're a little like live tiles on steroids.

It's going to be interesting to see how the latest Xbox dashboard evolves in the coming weeks.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • So... It's the "Ads Update" basically. Hopefully those in the "Insider" program will scream hard enough to lead Microsoft to get rid of those f*cking ads. They're now spamming the entire Home screen as well as the guide... That's just ridiculous.
  • 99% sure the previous dashboard had store recommendations, announcement and suggestions right on the home hub area too. They just...moved them from the right column to a horizontal one.
  • It has. That's a plague the Xbox has had for a while. But the current dashboard has those two blocks next to the recents now to the side (and the bloody ads on the guide as well). This one puts the ads front and centre and even throws in some extra ones in that string row.
    This is going beyond acceptable now. I'm surprised the same people who on Windows love adBlock and like to come up with conspiracy theories about Google and their ads aren't making more of a fuss about spending hundreds of euros for a device just to be spammed with ads afterwards.
  • luckily they are taking feedback. 
  • Haha, when was the last time MS actually specifically actioned user provided feedback?
  • Luckily I wrote on my first comment that I hope Insiders complain about this on behalf of those of us who aren't in the program.
  • There's a few adds the home screen, The other was link to games with gold which is always handy for those wanting to check this month's games and deals, pretty much the same as the current home screen
  • It's an ad of a game you can play on the console, it's not like they are trying to sell you a pack of panties or a new refrigerator. I like to see some store recommendations, because I like to buy and play games on my console, but the possibility to remove the store recommendation block would be nice for the overly sensitive users among us.
  • Guess what? Ads for games belong in the store. Not the Home UI. Ads in the store are acceptable. Anywhere else they aren't.
  • Says you. Others, maybe not.
  • Xbox has had ads on it's home screen since the xbox 360 launch, I remember seeing adds for NFL dashboard blades home on starting up my launch xbox 360 in a country were NFL wasnt even played and going WTF. It's not really anything new and PS4 has it's own highlights section, what do you think your looking at when you open Steam as well it defaults to the Steam store and ads!
  • Major differences: On the PS4 the ads are hidden away in the what's new section and you have to actively open it to see them and Steam is free software. On the Xbox not only have you paid for the console but they're spamming the entire UI with ads.
  • Jez sounds like a youtuber I've watched, but I can't  remember the name.
  • Hmm, I kinda liked the vertical guide menu, why changing this to horizontal??
  • Think it makes sense seeing as the controller input has never been quite built for the vertical seeing as the home button is in the middle of the controller
  • Need to move ads to the store! 
  • Really not a fan of the new Home Screen layout.  The Fluent design's blurring and lighting are nice, but the "suggested friend" and suggested activity is a stupid waste of space.  And why in the world did they put the ads in the same row as the recent apps/games?  It looks terrible and gives ads as much screen real estates as the much more important My Games & Apps and recently used items! And why is Mixer a separate tab? It should be integrated throughout the Community tab!
  • Why can't they just keep tweaking the existing one it's already the 3rd. People laugh at the PS4 only getting improvement updates but it's really fast and due to 8t being 4 years old now my. Fingers know exactly where everything is. Also ads are to much one is OK more than that makes me mad as we pay for live. In my eyes the original xbox dash was the best with the game being minimised but still running in its little box. Think xbox really shows how bad Microsofts strategy is at the moment to keep changing ui, yearly is getting to much bugs from day one still not getting fixed
  • WTF is going with Microsoft's Design Team. I loved the sleek, modern, and minimalist look they used to go for, but this screaming neon border looks like it was designed by a hyperactive 90s teenager. Coupled with the fake 3d and glass effects that bring back nightmares from Vista era design and it looks like Microsoft is jumping back 15 years designwise. I love neon colours on a black background but the current iteration is just way too 'loud' and obnoxious.
  • I don't like it. Not at all.
  • Maybe now you'll admit Sony's UI is better? XD
  • Wait, so there is no translucent effect in the Guide a la Windows 10? Just a plain grey background? A bit disappointing.
  • There is acrylic blur here and there. It's not final design anyway.
  • What functional benefit would that add? Genuine question. I'll never be the biggest fan of the whole Fluent Design thing, I just don't like the blur. I don't think it's necessary. But I do wonder why comments like yours see it as a disappointment that there is an element that isn't blurred.
  • Everyone getting so bent about the ads. They were there before, they are still here now.  They are minimal, and they are relevant (at least to me).  Bunch of whiners.   Let the downvoting begin.
  • They had no place there before and they have no place there now. And people don't have to accept that just because you're a sad fanboy who would eat ANYTHING if it came with the Microsoft logo on it. Deal with it.
  • LOL
  • @DJCBS Yeah, that's a reasonable, sane response...
  • The ads are one thing, how about the fact that the GUI is just plain fugly.  I'll be submitting feedback later tonight.
  • Hate it. Why cant the Ads be put on one Live Tile and that would be the end of it. How about letting me decide what content I want/dont want on my Home Screen and dumping tge suggested friends tile. I hate it on Facebook and I REALLY hate it on my Console.
  • you'd think paying for Live Gold would get rid of the advertisement tiles. just let us pin items to the main view already!
  • I think its time to get rid of ads.
  • Yeah, they really should scale back ads. If they are going to rework the home screen so much... it can't be so dominant... at least provide some gradient control.  Say one to two to three or flat out disable if you're a Gold member.  I mean I hate gated customizations like this, but it might be something to consider if its that or ads everywhere.
  • Jez, the philosophy behind your pink border is... well, your avatar is wearing a princess crown, and I am sure they thought the colour would suit you ^_~   Also thank you for making this - even if it was 4 AM in the morning. That is dedication!