The next Xbox One and Xbox Series X dashboard finally gets it right

Xbox One New Xbox Experience 2020 Hero
Xbox One New Xbox Experience 2020 Hero (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft has released the first iteration of its next Xbox One update to a small subset of testers, introducing an interface overhaul to be shared with the upcoming Xbox Series X. The newly-launched build provides a glimpse into what Microsoft dubs the "New Xbox Experience," further refining its console dashboard, and it's packed with much-welcomed visual refinements. The update further advances its latest system-wide design language, and while familiar in everyday function, it's the Xbox platform's final push into the next-generation.

Finally, the Xbox One dashboard appears to have settled on a design that works.

The Xbox One's operating system has been an ongoing struggle for Microsoft since its 2013 debut, after it, in hindsight, released a half-baked solution. The platform holder spent the years that followed playing catch-up, bundling in old features like the pop-out Guide menu, and rapidly cycling through redesign after redesign.

Xbox One New Xbox Experience 2020 Guide

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

It wasn't until four years after the Xbox One launch when the OS finally settled, employing Microsoft's Fluent Design System across all software and services. The revised language pushed Windows 10 and its largest apps away from flat design, experimenting with materials, effects, depth, and motion. It thrust the Xbox identity toward where it lies today, playing with light, blur effects, and layered panels across its apps.

That major shift set the Xbox interface on the right path, with refinements that naturally followed. The Home menu, My Games & Apps screen, and other fundamental utilities turned their focus to speed, toying with convenience and flexibility to a previously unseen degree. The continued optimizations may have felt small individually, but helped build smoother interactions through the full experience.

This fall's Xbox refresh is the latest in a multi-year design transition for the Xbox brand.

It established the foundations for what comes next, as Microsoft once again readies significant changes, although this time it's iterative rather than a full overhaul. It's currently in testing and limited to those enrolled in the Alpha Skip Ahead and Alpha rings of its Xbox Insider Program, with broader Xbox One and Xbox Series X availability scheduled for later this year.

The New Xbox Experience is mostly unchanged for everyday interactions, with strides made via the presentation instead. The update tweaks almost every element of its tiled interfaces with rounded corners, coupled with new animations, and even ditching the classic Xbox font. The iconic Segoe UI typeface is now mostly gone, as Xbox steadily embraces Microsoft's own Bahnschrift brand-wide.

New Xbox Experience Design Guidelines

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

It also packs a massive performance upgrade, with the OS now 50% faster to boot, and 30% faster when in-game, according to Microsoft. It'll also take up 40% less memory, cutting out the bloat from past missteps.

The first version 2010 build brings a framework for more changes to come, with expanded customization on the roadmap, through new profile features and dynamic system backgrounds. Those are expected to roll out over the weeks ahead as testing progresses.

While past updates settled on a format that works, what's next is the final identity shift that helps support Xbox into its latest generation. It aligns with recent changes made across all endpoints of the Xbox ecosystem and mirrors the new Xbox experiences on PC and mobile.

It's a commendable effort, proving the value of a multi-year effort to develop platform identity tying into the next console generation. This is a system-wide shakeup Windows users could only dream of, given a comparatively stagnant design beyond some minor Fluent Design flair. It's one of the final pieces in Microsoft's next-generation playbook and a promising foundation for a packed 2020.

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Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

  • I just installed it. Other than the rounder corners <meh>, I'm not really seeing anything different. It's not any faster or slower, so I guess that's okay. Much ado about nothing, methinks.
  • I agree, I'm barely in the dashboard or store, so changes don't seem to affect anything.
    Same with the speed.
  • Been testing this dashboard for a while and I love the improvements. The UI feels snappy and the Windows store is huge improvement. Running on a One X, so not sure what the experience is like on the VCR xbox and One S.
  • They keep tweaking the Xbox UI yet it continues to be ad-filled garbage.
    Well, at least they're consistent in that. If this is indicative of the next gen UI, then good thing I'm skipping the Xbox altogether.
  • Ads have gotten much better then in the past. The home section being customizable and simply fewer tiles devoted to ads help a lot. On top of that, the improvements with the pop out guide mean I spend very little time anywhere else unless I need to go to the store section.
  • Good. Hopefully that means we won't have to see this repeated message anymore. 😜
  • I have one ad on my home screen, is that's too much for you, you probably shouldn't leave your house.
  • Maybe you should get your eyes checked. It's quite minimal and hardly intrusive.
  • What adverts are you getting? I don't seem to really have any. I thought they had gone? Mainly only cause I just don't remember seeing them for awhile. Maybe I'm just not looking at them. I know where everything is I almost autopilot to what I want. So I'm not really looking at stuff I don't want. Lol. Edit: Now I'm looking for it, I did see 1 small. Add on the homescreen. Nothing else though. Barely noticed it.
  • I see this comment more often than I see ads. I see it all over, when I ask for more info, never any comes. So, what ads, how many, where are they?
  • It is funny to me when I see complaints about ads. I can't count how many times on the Xbox console, and almost anywhere else, a useful ad led me to buy something or at least read up on something new.. if the option ever came to turn off ads, I don't think I ever would. Hell! it was a pop up ad on some website that let me know panos panay had finally announced the surface duo was available for pre-order after months of waiting.
  • Really glad to see they're keeping both Segoe and Bahnschrift, for body and headings respectively. I wanted to like Bahnschrift, but it's not as readable as Segoe, particularly at smaller sizes. I sent this feedback when they first introduced it (specifically to split them between body and headings), and it seems like they did exactly as I hoped! Looks really good in these pics.
  • I agree! Even in the screenshot above with the design guidelines, you can see how much easier it is to read Segoe at small sizes, compared to Bahnschrift.
  • Hope it will come soon to the Beta ring. Can't wait to test it!
  • I'm probably in the minority on this. But they keep burying the settings deeper and deeper. I know it's not a reason not to use the device. But when they say features you care about most are easier to access, they didn't think of people like me. As I often will move the console to another TV, I find myself there all the time. Looks good overall though. Happy gaming!
  • People can get upset that the dashboard is always evolving, but I would be more upset if I had a stagnant UI that never changed, or that was thrown away at the end of a generation to start fresh...
  • The launch day Xbox One dashboard still is, by far, the best one. It's been steadily downhill ever since then.