Xbox messages to get GIF support, Windows 10 Xbox app being phased out?

Browsing the Xbox app on Windows 10, I received a message pop-up detailing the future of Xbox messaging, and ultimately, the fate of the Windows 10 Xbox app.

Microsoft appears to be gearing up to phase out the sluggish Windows 10 Xbox app, which hasn't received any meaningful updates for a very long time. The all-new Windows 10 Game Bar already incorporates the most critical Xbox app features on desktop PCs, in an interface that is far faster, more attractive, and frankly, better in almost every way.

It comes as no surprise then that Microsoft says that after May 23rd, the Xbox app on Windows 10 PCs will no longer support group messaging systems, as Microsoft transitions its Xbox messaging mechanics to a new and improved platform, which will also include GIF support "and more."

We will be upgrading our messaging services to introduce improved chat features (secondary inbox for non-friends, GIFs, and more). Sadly, your old group messages will be lost during the upgrade, so copy any old chats that you want to keep on the transition, we will be removing group messaging from this app to focus on console settings and simplify our apps. But rest assured a desktop solution for group messaging is coming soon so be sure to update Windows to get the newst Xbox apps and experiences when they become available.In the meantime, please use the Xbox app on iOS/Android for the upgraded group messages experience. The upgraded group messages will be available on your Xbox console on 23 May.Thanks for understanding. We continue to look to you and your feedback to help us build the best Xbox apps so please let us know how we're doing as we transition!

Microsoft notes that the upgraded experiences will arrive on the Android and iOS app. Given the pace of updates on the Windows 10 Game Bar beta, the new features shouldn't be far behind either.

The Xbox app on Windows 10, as slow as it is, served as a pretty decent bridge between desktop and Xbox for a few years, allowing you to access your cloud Xbox clips, manage your activity feed, and even stream your Xbox games to a PC on a local WiFi network.

The new Windows 10 Game Bar. (Image credit: Windows Central)

While Microsoft doesn't say outright that the Windows 10 Xbox app is being phased out, the fact it isn't getting the new chat features probably paints the writing on the wall. The new Windows 10 Game Bar, accessible via Windows Key + G, looks as though it'll be where Microsoft places its Xbox efforts on desktop moving forward. And that's a good thing, providing it gets matching features, that is.

You can test the new Windows 10 Game Bar by joining the Gaming Flight Ring via the Xbox Insider app on your PC, hit the link below for info on how to go about it.

How to join the Windows 10 Gaming Test Flight Ring

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!

  • I only use the Xbox Windows 10 app to control my console from the PC (since, you know, the Xbox remote isn't smart enough to be able to attach itself to only one console and I have two Xbox'es side by side.) If they want to scale down the Xbox app to remove things like messaging, and that leads to a faster Xbox app, great. But they better not end the app itself or it'll pretty much cut the tie between console and PC which Microsoft so desperately tried to build...
    From the message, though, it seems they're more doing the first option than the second. Fingers crossed.
  • Yeah, if they turned the Xbox app into more of an "Xbox Remote" and put all the social stuff into the Game Bar, I think that'd be the best option. The way it is now just isn't workable.
  • Agreed.
    These are two disparate User Journeys, for which appropriate solutions should be available. Certainly the new Game Bar serves the purpose for gaming on the PC whilst being in the Xbox ecosystem, however the independent console control/streaming Screen/remote functionality does not appear to logically reside within that Use Case... Of course the assumption I am making, being that there are two clear usage requirements based on a sample size of 1, of which Microsoft would be able to validate with data to show the usage and extract the different use cases (if any) of the customer base i.e. Determine the solution/s required to meet each use case. *proceeds to cross fingers the above is in play*
  • In the grand scheme of things, the "tie" between console and PC was and is a Fail of an effort to do something that no one wanted or cared about.
  • Literally a Sample size of one.
  • Are you saying that no one uses the feature to stream games to a PC? Because I'm here to tell you that you are wrong. Not that I have used it daily or anything, but it's nice to not have to move the Box to different TVs just to play.
  • I wouldn't mind seeing the PC app go because the UI and UX is hot garbage. It's beyond cluttered. Considering how long it look MS to clean up the start menu on new PCs, I'm not surprised the Xbox app has a horrid UI.
  • The app is stupid sluggish. So its no surprise the replacement isn't top priority. I bet usage isn't all that great. I'm one of the few who do use it and look forward to its replacement.
    Lets hope I don't have to wait forever for unnecessary transitions just to open up a chat or Club list next time. That might be "acceptable" with the console userbase, but didn't transfer over very well.
    I appreciate their initial efforts in improving it though. It is better than when it launched.
  • If Game Bar holds all the social aspects and the Xbox app handles remote and streaming, I'm good. Really the Xbox app should serve mostly as an Xbox management tool.
  • I use Xbox messaging on Windows 10 even when not in a game. It seems like it could be weird using the game bar when not in a game, but I'll have to try it out. I wish the Xbox app had an area to see what Xbox games you own on console.
  • same, I guess I'm going to have to put Discord in game mode.
    Which as long as I still get notifications that'll be cool
  • I don't like the idea of having to use the game bar which only works inside games to access xbox content.
    It's useful to be able to see your social feed, achievements, game store, etc without having to load a game up.
  • The new game bar can be launched anytime, you don't need to open a game.
  • Can Game Bar do Xbox Streaming, or is that a feature Microsoft are moving away from now?
  • I hope this isn't the case, it's really a nice feature.
  • I don't do GIFs. And I don't use either the Xbox app or the Game Bar. Neither provide any feature or service I have a use for, especially while I'm gaming...which is almost exclusively in VR.
  • Not a big loss for me. I've never used a social feature on Xbox. I only use the Xbox app on iPhone as a remote control. Don't think I've ever used it on Windows 10.
  • I hope they don't phase out the app. It does actually have some decent uses. That being said, if they wanted to reboot the app so that it's less horribly slow I wouldn't mind. Actually, the phone app is stupid slow too... Maybe there are other issues at play...
  • yes
    this x10000
  • It would be sad, if they phased out the app without a replacement. It had the potential to be a meta-launcher for alle the various stores out there. Also, in-home streaming to weak tablets worked great for me. I assume there will be a replacement because where would you stream XCloud to if not to an app? Maybe there's going to be a PWA/website for it but that could potentially rule out the launcher feature, wouldn't it?
  • I suppose this may lead to the end of any type of Xbox Live service on Windows 8.1 phones. Another nail in its coffin.
  • Holy crap, I tought those coffins were already long buried!
  • remember when smartglass was a thing?
  • SmartGlass still works, and I use it often to control the volume on my TV, but, yes, I remember when SmartGlass integration for games was a huge feature back in 2013 that they then just failed to build on, like Kinect and so many other features Microsoft has abandoned. It was pretty neat having my Surface Pro next to me and using Smartglass as a companion in Ryse to find collectibles and in Dead Rising 3 to have the world map up on a second screen.
  • yeah smartglass was lit
  • Yes, yet another great feature that was never used to its fullest extent..
  • Smartglass had so much potential, I remember using it with Dead Rising 3.