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Xbox Anniversary Update details confirmed ahead of August 2 release

Now that Microsoft has made the Anniversary Update official for August 2, it's as good a time as any to refresh ourselves with what we can expect across the board. The next version of Windows 10 will bring Xbox and PC much closer together, as well as updating the user interface and feature set on the Xbox One.

From Microsoft's official blog post detailing the update, here's what Xbox gamers can expect:

  • With the Xbox Play Anywhere program, you can buy a game once and play on your Windows 10 PC and Xbox One with shared progress, shared game saves and shared achievements. Every new title published from Microsoft Studios will support Xbox Play Anywhere and will be easily accessible in the Windows Store.
  • Xbox Play Anywhere games will be offered within the new unified Windows Store on both Windows 10 and Xbox One. You'll be able to find the content you want faster and purchase game and app bundles, pre-orders, pre-downloads and subscriptions such as Xbox Live Gold.
  • On Xbox One, gamers will be able to use Cortana commands to find great new games, see what your friends are up to, start a party, accomplish common tasks and turn on your Xbox One by saying "Hey Cortana, Xbox On".
  • Top fan requested features for Xbox One, such as Language Region Independence (allowing gamers to choose any supported language, regardless of their location) and support for background music, will come with the Anniversary Update.

The Xbox Play Anywhere system was detailed a couple of weeks ago at E3, with big new titles such as Gears of War 4, ReCore and Forza Horizon 3 all being enabled for buy once, play anywhere on console and PC. Being able to flip between the two on the same game save information is a big deal.

Of everything else coming, one in particular catches the eye; Background music. It's been one of the most requested features pretty much since the console launched without it, and it reassures us to see that it's talked about here. The latest preview build is currently in the hands of testers, so we're already seeing bits like Cortana and the refreshed design, as well as what the unified Store is going to look like. But between now and August there's still plenty to be done so we'll be following progress carefully.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

57 Comments
  • Cortana got better with the last preview build but so much work to be done still if people are to continue using voice commands without getting frustrated. You really want a success rate in the high 90's IMO, roughly what I would get with the old commands. Cortana is interesting but really it's quicker and easier to just do recordings with the gamepad at this point.
  • Yeah. I used the old voice commands constantly. Once you got the wording it was fairly reliable. Cortana is substantially more frustrating on Xbox and frequently just doesn't even wake up to "hey Cortana". Then again my phone and win10 pc act the same way. I can say that Cortana just isn't fully baked yet. She needs some SERIOUS backbone work before moving to all the other platforms.
  • @Thomas I was all fired up and ready to dismiss Cortana when I opted in to "latest" and got her with the most recent preview update. Since then, I've actually gotten the exact opposite experience as you - she wakes up my Xbox even more reliably than the old way. It is extremely consistent that every single time I say "Hey Cortana", the Kinect light turns on, and it recognizes "Xbox On". It's been a little laggy with actually turning it on from time to time, but it works. I've been impressed and kind of shocked to be honest. Have you tried the volume up/down commands? That is one other area I am pleasantly surprised with. I swear I heard Microsoft talk about your Kinect being able to distinguish between your voice and your TV at launch, but it rarely heard me with the TV super loud (when I was yelling at it to turn the volume down). Unexpectedly, a Netflix show came on that was much louder than anything else, and I decided to try out Cortana's voice control just for the hell of it (the xbox remote takes forever to turn down TV volume). I didn't yell at all and she heard me. Took the volume down 7 steps, per my settings. I was floored. Took Microsoft 2.5 years to actually figure out how to do what they said worked at launch, but wow. My experience, anyway. YMMV
  • My recent experience: "lol, that was funny.... oh yea, let's record that. Hey Cortana, record that" *wait... wait... wait... watch as Cortana snaps a window to right with a search for 'record' instead* *attempts to close snap and resigns to double tap xbox button and press button to record.* *Reviews video clip later. It missed my moment entirely* I do miss the days where Xbox One would always record a total of 5 minutes, so I could go back and edit things for a full 5 mins. Dunno why/when that disappeared
  • Thats still there.  Snap game DVR and hit "end clip" 
  • Have to say been happy with update to Xbox update so far. Ain't used it much but for the time I spent with it, the ui is cleaner and the layout is better. UX feels snappier too. Don't get me wrong, it still has a way to go to meet parity with OG x1 dashboard but this is a step in the right direction. Also Cortana understands me better than the previous voice agent and that's a win for me.
  • "Hey Cortana, Xbox on." Wow that is a mouthful. I really wish they kept the old "Xbox..." commands in addition to the Cortana commands, or even an option to switch between them.
  • LOL I was just thinking Xbox On was quicker than Hey Cortana....Xbox On. Could've left that command alone I guess, but for consistencies sake...ok.
  • I have my PC connected to my tv, so it's like 3 feet away from my Xbox..  using Hey Cortana would just trigger everywhere.  they need to allow us to customize the phrase so people can use one for each different device
  • yeah, happens to me too, I had to disable "Hey Cortana" on my PC because it would fire every time I tried to do something on my Xbox. And just "Xbox <command>" is shorter and easyer to say then "Hey Cortana <command>", they should have kept for the old commands, since Cortana is slower to do things like change volume, and is more like a glorified "Xbox Bing <search>".
    but I gess they are expecting people to use Cortana with the headset just for setting chats and whatever, and giving Kinect users the shaft because it failed. Skype is now half useless on Xbox, can't make or answer calls just by voice commands and contact names.
  • It gets worse the more devices you have, I pretty much can't use cortana now because it triggers simultaneously for me on xbox, desktop, phone and hololens. feedback-hub:?contextid=535&feedbackid=869c317f-e6c1-49c0-8a7c-8231b6673b75&form=2&src=1  
  • Admit it. You just wanted to humblebrag the Hololens. ;)
  • I have just been saying Xbox On and its working. I dont think you have to say Hey Cortana. Now I do have to say Hey Cortana to turn the Xbox off.
  • Cortana is vastly more responsive for me in regards to turning it on. It was a struggle with the old commands, she now does it immediately.
  • Yeah that was feedback i submitted right away
  • Unfortunately MS doesn't realize that Canadian's also speak English.  Went through these same hoops with WP and Cortana.  Had to wait months for them to unlock Cortana from the small handfull of countries they've locked it to.
  • I wish it was possible to arrange games/apps the way I want in "My games".
  • join the preview. and give feedback on that. I did already myself as I want that feature too. The more who ask about it the more likely it is to come.
  • its not so easy to just join the preview...
  • What ever happened to bringing the dam apps store?
  • That isnt coming??
  • That is covered by the second bullet point where it says, "Xbox Play Anywhere games will be offered within the new unified Windows Store on both Windows 10 and Xbox One." There's no reason to assume that other apps won't make it on.
  • Its a work in progress
  • I don't understand why the one didn't come with background music? The 360 had for forever. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • At least it's here, better late then never
  • Hooray for background music! Hopefully it doesn't require throwing 50 GB of music onto OneDrive, that would suck. Also, Cortana is like a bad joke. "Xbox On," is now, "Hey Cortana, Xbox On?" I think I'll just press the button on my controller, shoot. Between Cortana and Xbox Fitness, Kinect is soon dead to me, sadly. But that's fine, if it means background music. I've missed that immensely on the One, as I like to play most multiplayer stuff with something to listen to.
  • Agreed, outside of "xbox use a code" and "xbox play music" I couldn't care less about voice commands, I have a universal remote that does everything else.
  • What about uwp apps?
  • Seriously. With the VLC news I was planning to run that one my XB1...
  • "Every new title published from Microsoft Studios will support Xbox Play Anywhere". So you're saying they've indirectly confirmed Halo 6 for PC.
  • They are not saying that, Halo 6 may only be for Xbox One.
  • Wait, what am I saying?!
  • They would have to admit there was a halo 6 to begin with :)
  • I will mark this down on my calendar.
  • While I'm happy that background music is finally coming to Xbox One, I find it hard to believe it needed this long to be released. Sure, it's great the OS updates come often but how do you release a console missing so many features that the previous one had? Xbox One on day one was so crippled in features and riddled with bugs. It should be a rule that the new consoles can do EVERYTHING the old one can and more. Not a few of the things the old one, the rest will come in a couple years and then a few new features. 
  • It was removed because it wasn't a highly used feature per their own usage statistics.  The way it was implemented on 360 allowed devs to stop music with cut scenes and things of the like.  I imagine this took some dev work that perhaps they got negative feedback on that did not make sense to support anymore.   I think this really is an example though of a feature that many shout for that goes relatively unused.  There is a reason both Sony and MS didn't bother with it. 
  • I am running the new version of Xbox One, and I must say I like it.  Still a sticky point for me though:  For some reason, they have been ignoring the Media Player app; after numerous requestes for them to add a simple search by letter, you have to scroll through every video file in your directory, every time.  It sucks.
  • Join the feedback program and speak up. That is a great idea !!!
  • BTW if someone wants an invite to the beta program, reply here w/  xbox live name, I think they are still allowing enteries as someone I addeda few weeks ago got in.
  • Would be glad if you could add me.  Gamertag: rignopolis Thanks!  
  • i'd like to join. same tag as on here: pjhenry1216
  • I think I would like to do some testing too... DGR874   Thanks!
  • Runar G3 please invite :)
  • "Hey Cortana! Xbox On" works better than "Xbox On."   My issue is with everything else.  Saying "Xbox record that, volume up, volume down, go home, and pause," is better.  Sticking Hey Cortana before those commands is to long.  
  • Completely agree. And substantially slower in her execution of those commands.
  • Exactly.  
  • The only good thing about this update is background music.
  • Language independence is THE thing I'm looking forward the most. Everything else is absolutely irrelevant to me since neither will I return to PC gaming because of play anywhere nor is Cortana even available in my country. Background music is interesting but it will depend on how it'll work and from where can we source the music. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Unfortunately this update didn't fix my Kinect from randomly turning off and not coming back up until I do a hard reboot. The NXE broke my Kinect.
  • Ditto! Just unplug Kinect and plug in again.
  • That happened to me as well. 
  • Background music ! Yessss Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • how is background music any better, than snapping some music app?
  • You don't have to snap an app? 
  • I like the new voice commands myself. I can say, "Hey Cortona, turn my xbox on" or something similar to that. I issue I had with the old commands. If I am playing a game, if the Kinect heard anything close to Xbox, my game would pause and I could not do anything. That could be a problem if I am playing Destiny or any mp game. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Whatever happened to their statement that the Xbox preview program was being merged with the Windows Insider one...because that certainly hasn't happened, nor has anyone seemingly said anything about it for months. 
  • Crap, my Windows phone, tablet and my Xbox one will be responding to the Cortana command, Not good. Posted via Spaceship One