Xbox Product Manager Ivy Krislov recently joined Larry Hryb on the Official Xbox Podcast to discuss the new Xbox Home experience being tested by Xbox Insiders, and it saw Hryb close the door on a return of the Blades UI .
Microsoft has the first iteration of its all-new Xbox home screen Xbox Insiders recently picked up, though it won’t be fully implemented until 2023. To discuss the new “Home Experience,” Xbox Product Manager Iver Krislov joined Larry Hryb, AKA Major Nelson, on the Official Xbox Podcast. If you’re not a fan of the current UI being tested, you might be happy to know that there are two other versions still to be tested, but it sounds like only the bottom portion of the screen will change become – and we definitely won’t see the blades return.
Microsoft has two additional Xbox dashboard variations to test
“No, you can’t have the blades back,” said Hryb. “They were beautiful, they were cool, but you can’t get them back because they don’t scale, as we say in the business, to what we want to do.” Originally shipped with the first Xbox 360s in 2005, the ‘blades’ dashboard featured the console’s menus on separate tabs surrounded by a pair of silver blades, which would make a ‘whoosh’ sound whenever you swiped through them page. To this day, it’s one of the most defining things that made the console great.
The new Home experience, while not featuring the Blades, is designed to give you everything you need on one screen when you boot up the console, while scrolling down brings up various curated lists of Xbox Game Pass titles and other games for purchase will arrive. The idea is to streamline your browsing experience, such as pulling the store, settings, and search pages and putting them front and center on the dashboard. “We really see this as an evolution of the current House,” Krislov said. “Taking a lot of the things we’ve done well before and building on them.”
Microsoft’s engineering team has been laying the groundwork for this update for the past year, streamlining feedback processes for Xbox Insiders. “Something that a lot of Xbox fans might not know; usually it can take us three months to test very small features,” Krislov said. “Our hope is that by building this infrastructure, we can test things, get your feedback, iterate, and come back to you with something even better.”
The current version being tested by Insiders is the first of three planned dashboard versions, and Krislov’s team doesn’t expect to have the final version ready until “by the end of this calendar year,” so a lot could change in that time , depending on feedback — “the feedback we’ve gotten so far in testing has been that the top row obscures dynamic backgrounds a little more than some customers would like,” Krislov said. “We have a meeting set up for tomorrow (September 17) to look at all that feedback.”
When discussing what is shown when you browse the home page, Krislov notes that “most clients today have their default content blocks, such as Store, the Community, Game Passetc., and then maybe they’ll have one or two pinned games that they really care about.” Other content blocks like Clubs and Friends are much less frequently used, and due to most people not using the bottom portion of the dashboard, Microsoft is looking to make better use of the space.
“People don’t scroll down as often because they’re going to jump straight into games from the top of Home, which makes perfect sense,” Krislov said. “We started by building the infrastructure where we can put different game channels with curation, with personalization and with customization in front of the customer. As we progress through these tests, which we are currently in the first one, but we have two more planned, [we’ll be] by adding different content types, for example for customers who use their console to watch TV, we will add a media experience – one of the most common pinned groups on Home is people pinning shows they want to watch TV with. “
The next dashboard test is planned to launch for Xbox Insiders in October, so we’ll see the changes the team has implemented then, based on the feedback from the Insiders program. We recently wrote about some of the fan-made concept pieces of other dashboard variants and conducted a poll to see what you thought about the one Microsoft is currently testing. Of the 1,156 votes we received, 482 (41.7%) of you voted to put it in the bin, while 25% of voters think it’s ‘okay’.
Are you looking forward to seeing the project grow throughout the rest of this year? Leave a comment below and let us know!