Why Can’t Microsoft Get Its Xbox One Dashboard Right? – Forbes

Microsoft

Xbox One

I’ve spent the last twenty minutes watching a new Microsoft video about an Xbox One dashboard redesign three times.

I still have almost no idea what’s going on.

It’s the latest rework for a user interface that has been resdesigned too many times to count at this point, and while what’s being explained onscreen seems to make perfect sense to the Microsoft employees presenting it, it still does not seem intuitive to me at all.

Once upon a time, the Xbox One debuted with a really bad interface, one that was rooted in the Windows “tiles” system, and also designed to work with Kinect control, meaning it was a maelstrom of bad design decisions from day one.

Since then, Microsoft has become addicting to redesigning the Xbox One interface from top to bottom, and this latest iteration may have more features than the previous installments, but man, I am having a hard time following it, and I have no idea what it will be like when I’m actually using it.

At this point, part of the problem with the Xbox One interface is not just the design itself, but the fact that it simply keeps changing. You can make a not-that-intuitive system relatively intuitive if you use it enough, but then a few months later Microsoft scraps it and redesigns it all over again, and you no longer know where anything is once more unless you spend your morning watching tutorial videos.

Microsoft

Xbox One

Questions I have about this home screen off the bat:

Why is the Forza text so plain? Why is the background clearly not Forza and some space game?

Why is the Forza launch button so small when 90% of the time that’s what I’ll be hitting?

Why are three of these tiles ads and almost taking up more space than the stuff that isn’t ads?

Why does the games and apps tile look glitched and blank even when it’s highlighted?

Why would I ever want a “friend suggestion” as the second most prominent thing on my home screen?

I would argue that Xbox One actually is much more feature-rich than Sony, and with Xbox Live, has better partying and grouping tools than any other console on the market, and other cool features with livestreaming and activity feeds I really like. But the package they come in continues to be somewhat incomprehensible, changed drastically every few months, while Sony’s system, a relatively simple scrollbar of apps and games, remains more or less unaltered.

Microsoft didn’t always have this problem, and players are now pining for the days of the Xbox 360’s “blade” interface, which many agree was Microsoft’s best. But they just do not seem like they can get a handle on the Xbox One interface, where even though they claim to be incorporating fan feedback, the entire thing still feels counter-intuitive, and the coming update does not seem to change that, if this video is any indication.

I know this topic will rally Xbox One fanboys to the dashboard’s defense, saying I’m an idiot for not understanding how seamless it all is if you just learn it, but I’ve tried to learn it and A) it has never seemed better than Sony’s interface, even once I know how to do everything and B) it keeps changing endlessly.

Again, I like my Xbox One. I maintain the controller is better than the DualShock, I like all the features it has, and I’m excited to get an Xbox One X. But I have never stopped hating the UI, and it’s becoming a running joke that each new redesign does little to fix the problem, no matter how major or minor the changes.  I really don’t understand how a company with this much R&D and history making the most commonly used PC interfaces on the planet cannot seem to figure this out. But it’s clear they’ll never stop trying.

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