The Xbox experience across devices is becoming more robust this week as we begin to roll out a host of new features. You’ll notice some old favorites—like avatars—making a comeback, and brand new features—like testing streaming—setting the stage for bigger things to come. Let’s jump in!

  • Xbox on Windows 10

Here’s a closer look at the great new features coming to Xbox on Windows 10 with this month’s Xbox app preview:

Avatars – You can now download and launch the Avatars app from within the Xbox app. After the app is installed, select Customize > Customize your avatar to launch the Avatars app and edit, dress up, and buy new items for your avatar.

Friends updates – We’re making it easier to add friends, designate them as favorites and share your name from the Xbox app. The friends list will also show you which of your friends are in a party, playing multiplayer games, or broadcasting. You can also report or block people from the Xbox app.

Game hubs – Similar to Xbox One, you can now view the game hub for an Xbox One game and view the activity feed curated by the game’s community manager. Click on any game tile, under Home > Recently played or elsewhere in the Xbox app, and you will be taken to the game hub.

Game DVR – You can now alter the keyboard shortcuts used for opening the Game Bar, starting and stopping recording, taking screenshots, and more. Also, you can now view and manage your cloud-based game clips from the Xbox app by selecting Game DVR > Shared.

Testing streaming – The Xbox team needs your help in providing information about your PC’s performance and connectivity characteristics as we prepare to enable game streaming from Xbox One to Windows 10 PCs. To do this, connect your Xbox One to your Windows 10 PC using the Xbox app: from the Connect menu, select your Xbox One console then choose Connect. Once connected, click on Test streaming to anonymously send the team diagnostic information about your PC and network settings.

Turn On/Off your Xbox One Console – The Connect menu in Xbox app has been updated to let you power your Xbox One on and off from your Windows 10 devices when they are on the same home network as your console.

The Xbox app will sign in using your primary Microsoft Account and associated gamertag that you use to sign into Windows 10. If you want to sign in with a different gamertag, you will need to set up a second Microsoft account on your Windows 10 PC. The ability to sign into the Xbox app with a different Microsoft Account/Xbox Profile will be re-enabled in a future update.

  • Xbox One updates

The Xbox team is gearing up for E3 in June and we’ve got some exciting things to share with you there, but first, this month we’re continuing to preview a few things while we gather feedback and work toward making them available to everyone.

Xbox One Digital TV Tuner in 11 new European countries – The team will continue to test the Xbox One Digital TV with our preview audience in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland, with plans to make it available to all customers in these countries later this summer. Earlier this week, we announced the retail availability of an over-the-air TV tuner for the U.S. & Canada as well.

Wireless Display app – We appreciate all the great feedback you’ve sent us and the team continues to make improvements to the Miracast functionality in the Wireless Display app based on that feedback. Keep it coming!

For more details about each of these features coming in the Preview update, check out the Xbox Wire.

We’ll continue to bring more great Xbox features your way on Xbox One and the Xbox app on Windows 10. Don’t forget to let us know what you think at Xbox Feedback.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt launches 19 May and I have the opportunity to team up with Jeff Rubenstein and stream the game tomorrow.

The stream is scheduled for Friday, 15 May at 3p ET/12n PT and will be streamed live on the Xbox Twitch channel (or watch it below once it goes live).

Watch the stream for a chance to win a code that will unlock the game when it is officially released. And be sure to stick around for the end of the stream where I talk about how one lucky winner is going to win The Witcher: Wild Hunt Collector’s Edition I autographed in this unboxing video I did back in March.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is available for Digital Pre-order and Pre-download on Xbox One. For more information about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, check out the official site here.

Xbox keeps getting better with more new features coming to preview this month for both Xbox One consoles and the Xbox app on Windows 10. We’re making the Xbox app more social, while also giving you more control over your Xbox experience. Also, this month we are delivering several new fan-requested features to the Xbox One console and Xbox One SmartGlass.

  • Xbox on Windows 10

Let’s take a closer look at what’s coming to Xbox on Windows 10 with this month’s Xbox app preview and Windows Insider updates from the Windows team. We know you love recording and sharing game clips and screenshots, so this month we spent time enabling that feature on Windows 10.

Game DVR for PC games – The Game bar lets you record game clips of your favorite Windows games.

Screenshots – Take screenshots of Windows PC games by pressing Windows + Alt + PrtScr. Just as with Game DVR, you can also do this by clicking the “Screenshot” button on the Game bar.

Live Tiles – The Xbox tile on your Windows 10 start menu now welcomes you back, showing off your gamerpic and letting you know when you have new messages and activity alerts.

Avatar app – A new app is available in the Windows Store to customize your Xbox avatar’s appearance and outfit your avatar with a vast collection of items.

User profile – You can see another gamer’s bio, location, reputation, tenure, and other information in the more info page, including their animated avatar.

Real name sharing – Similar to the features we brought you in the March update on Xbox One, you can now choose to share your real name on the Xbox app with all of your friends or with everybody.

In addition to keeping you connected to your games and friends, we’re giving you even more control over the Xbox experience on Windows 10.

Xbox One Now Playing and media controls – The games and apps you’ve used most recently on your Xbox One are now displayed when you connect the Xbox app to your console. You can also use the Xbox app to pause, fast forward and rewind.

Live TV streaming and PIP (picture in picture) support – For preview members with an Xbox One Digital TV Tuner (in 16 European countries and Australia) or a Hauppauge 955Q TV Tuner (available in the U.S. or Canada) attached to their Xbox One, you can now stream live TV within your home from your Xbox One to Windows 10 PC running the Xbox app.

Xbox controller drivers – The drivers for Xbox controllers are now included with Windows 10, so you no longer have to download and install controller drivers on Windows 10.

The Xbox app will automatically update to the April preview version when it becomes available in the Windows Store. Once you receive the update, your version number should be 4.4.9014.0 or higher. You can verify the version number of the Xbox app in Settings.

  • Xbox One and SmartGlass updates

The Xbox team continues to work hard to bring the many fan-requested features on the Xbox Feedback site to Xbox One and Xbox One SmartGlass, with the following items being available to preview members this month:

Over-the-air TV for the U.S. and Canada – Earlier this month, we announced the preview for an Over-the-Air Tuner for the U.S. and Canada.

Power on and off from Xbox One SmartGlass – The beta versions of the Xbox One SmartGlass apps for Windows, Windows Phone and Android will be updated to let you turn your Xbox One on and off.

Wireless Display app – Try the Wireless Display app to cast photos stored on your phone to your Xbox One, or to stream non-protected video content from your PC to your Xbox.

User-selectable power mode – Select your preferred power mode, either Instant-on or Energy-saving mode.

Voice messages – The ability to send and receive voice messages from the Xbox One messages app continues in preview this month.

For more details about each of these features, check out the full story at Xbox Wire. And stay tuned for more great Xbox features coming your way on Xbox One and the Xbox app on Windows 10.

Don’t forget to let us know what you think at Xbox Feedback.

Larry Hryb @majornelson

More @majornelson on Twitter

Back in March we announced the Preview Program would expand to the Xbox 360 and work much like the Xbox One Preview Program – selected members would be able to sign-up directly from their Xbox 360 and once registered, have the opportunity to install system updates and experience the new or improved features before they release to the general audience. One of the most requested features at the Xbox Feedback website was for larger external storage for the Xbox 360.

The next update for Xbox 360 Preview Program members will allow the use of 2TB hard drives to store Xbox 360 data. If you are not part of the Preview program you will get this functionality later this year. In addition we will also no longer reserve space in advance on your hard drive.  If you are using 16GB of hard drive space for games – we will only take 16GB of space. And just like today – you will be able to use two external drives at a time.

Note: Some drives may be incompatible or have performance issues. If you already have space reserved for storing Xbox 360 data, you will need to clear the Xbox 360 storage to gain full access to the drive. If you are in the Preview program, please review the list of known issues before formatting your drive.

As a reminder, the best way to recommend changes and improvements to the Xbox One or 360 is through the Xbox Feedback website. We appreciate your feedback and continue to work on improving the Xbox experience.

This month, we’re rolling out updates to our Xbox One Preview program members in two waves, with the first set coming today and more to come next week. Check out the list below for features in this first April system update preview that is starting to roll out this afternoon:

  • Party chat improvements – Party chat is being improved with troubleshooting guidance for Xbox One owners. The Party App will help you get your microphone enabled and show you when privacy settings or networking issues are blocking communication with particular party members.
  •  Game hub links – Members can more easily discover game hub content from activity feed items. You’ll see activity feed items when any of your friends follow a game, and you’ll also be able to get back to a game’s hub from activity feed posts related to the game – including feed items about the game’s achievements, game clips and screenshots. Finally, we’ve added a link to game hubs from the game’s page in the achievements app.
  •  Achievement notifications – With this preview release, you’ll also see the achievement’s description in the notification so you know what you did to earn this achievement without having to open the achievements app. If you do choose to open up the notification to see the achievement details, we’ve also made some performance improvements to make loading the achievements app from a notification faster.

Stay tuned next week for the second wave with even more great features coming to Xbox One Preview program members. As always, thanks for your feedback.

Earlier this month, we added a host of new features and improvements on Xbox One and starting today, members of the Xbox One preview program will get to check out even more new features – some of which are planned for the March system update.

Check out the list of features in the March preview update that are starting to roll out tonight:

Screenshots – While playing a game, you can now take screenshots on your Xbox One console by simply double-tapping the Xbox button on your controller to capture a screenshot and pressing Y to save the screenshot. If your Xbox One is equipped with a Kinect, you can also say “Xbox Take a Screenshot” to take and save a screenshot.

Upload App – The Upload app is being updated so that you can manage your screenshots in addition to your game clips. You can use a screenshot as your background, by viewing the screenshot in full-screen mode from the Upload app, then, press the Menu button and select Set as background.

Suggested friends – With the suggested friends feature, the Friends area in home and your friends list will help you find and add friends. Suggested friends will include people you might know, so you add more friends to game with, and top community broadcasters and clip creators, so you can get more great content in your activity feed.

Sharing your name – We’re rolling out two new ways to share your real name; with all of your friends or to everyone in the Xbox Live community. You can also continue to share your real name with select friends, or with no one, if that’s what you prefer. Gamertags are still the primary method of identifying yourself on Xbox Live, but sharing your real name helps people recognize you who might not know you by your gamertag.

Tile transparency – We continue to listen to your feedback and are adding a setting to enable you to vary the level of transparency for your background images. Go to Settings -> My Xbox -> Tile transparency.

Privacy & online safety settings – We added a new setting for sharing voice search data to create an option for users to allow collection and analysis of voice data when they use Xbox – Bing to search.

Report spam – The Messages app has an added option to allow you to notify Xbox when you receive spam. You can now select a specific message, press the A button and then select Report -> Spam to report a specific message as spam.

OneGuide for Australia – Support for OneGuide will continue in preview in Australia for free-to-air TV listings.

Xbox One Digital TV Tuner in Australia – Xbox One owners in Australia with an Xbox Digital TV Tuner can now use it with the preview builds of this month’s release.

Let us know what you think of this month’s preview and stay tuned for more news on Xbox One system updates. And remember, the most effective place for your ideas, suggestions, and feedback to be seen by the teams that create Xbox products and services is at the Xbox feedback site.

If you are a member of the Xbox Preview Program, I recommend you update your Xbox One controller(s) with the latest preview build (OS version > 1502.150120) which provides the following updates:

Quick Connect – previous controller connections to an Xbox One took 4-5 seconds when powering on a controller, now they should occur in ~2 seconds

Stability improvements – the firmware also provides a number of fixes that address issues submitted by customers and preview participants


To update your controller firmware:

  • Connect a controller to your Xbox One with a USB cable.  Keep any headsets connected to the controller.
  • Connect to Xbox Live.
  • Press the Menu
  • Go to Settings > Devices & accessories.  Select the controller.
    • If you have multiple controllers attached, you can select Buzz – which will cause the selected controller to vibrate.
  • Then select Update to download the new firmware to the controller attached via the USB cable, and the screen will show the Updating controller … progress screen
  • When you see the Controller updated screen, press ‘B’ to go back to the Devices & accessories main page
  • Reselect the controller, the Firmware version, should now be: 1.2.2236.0

For additional information, please visit the Xbox controllers website or read this article about Xbox controller connect issues.

Thanks for helping make Xbox One better and better!

Thanks to the Xbox community, we’re back in action early this year, kicking off 2015 with another system update preview release on Xbox One. Last year, we added hundreds of features on Xbox One — we can’t wait to share more with you this year and hear what you think on Xbox Feedback! This month, we’re bringing members of our Preview program a peek at how we hope to bring the Xbox community even closer together through an all-new feature called game hubs. Your friends, game creators, community managers, and other fans like you can now more easily meet, talk, share content, and play their favorite games. Also, we’re adding more tile transparency for custom backgrounds and a handful of updates to live TV.

Starting today, members of the Xbox One preview program will get to check out these new features first:

  • Game hubs – New in preview this month, game hubs are the go-to centers for all sorts of interesting content around your favorite games. Every Xbox One game will have a game hub where you can see which of your friends are playing the game, compete with your friends in game leaderboards, dive into the coolest game clips and game broadcasts, and follow the game’s VIPs and top players.

To get to the game hub for your favorite game, find a game in your pins, recently played list, or My games and apps, then press the Menu button and select View game hub. You can also search for any game in the Xbox Store and click on the game hub tile from the game’s store page.

  • Custom backgrounds and tile transparency – We listened to your feedback and added additional tile transparency to the Home tiles to make your background images more visible. As a reminder, to set a custom background, go to Settings > My Xbox > My background. Note: some items can’t be made transparent due to usage rights/restrictions for certain images.
  • TV updates – We’re releasing a lot of updates to the live TV experience and features are being released to additional countries in preview this month:
    • OneGuide for the Netherlands – Support for OneGuide will continue in preview for the Netherlands and the missing channels for the Netherlands OneGuide listings will become available over the next few weeks.
    • TV trending in OneGuide – As you scan the detailed OneGuide TV listings, you can see which shows are trending by a “Trending on Xbox” note and associated icon. Xbox – live TV trending is based on the number of Xbox One owners currently watching that show in each country, pulled from anonymous data collected at a national level. Currently, Xbox TV trending is available to all members in the U.S., UK and Canada.
    • Live TV trending (new countries) – France, Germany, Brazil and Mexico will begin seeing live TV trending data in Xbox OneGuide.
    • Improved control of TVs, set-top boxes and audio/video receivers – Xbox One will work even better with more devices. This month’s preview release contains updates to the IR blasting database for new models and addresses issues reported by our fan community.
    • “Trick play” with Xbox One Digital TV Tuner – Preview members with the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner in supported countries (UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) will now be able to see video frames when fast-forwarding or rewinding paused TV on your Xbox One consoles.
    • Live TV streaming on Windows Phone and Android – We are continuing the preview of live TV streaming on Windows Phone and Android devices for Xbox One Digital TV Tuner owners in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

We’re excited to start the New Year off on the right foot by continuing our commitment to making Xbox One the best place to play. Let us know what you think of this month’s preview and stay tuned for more news on Xbox One system updates.

Track Your Xbox One Preview Program Progress

Those of you participating in the Xbox One Preview Program have been instrumental in making Xbox One the best place to play. Beginning today, participants will be able to track their contributions via the new My stats page in the Preview Dashboard app.

Preview program activities such as completing quests, surveys, quick polls, and rating updates now earn you points, viewable in My stats. As you earn points, you’ll level up and unlock new Preview pics. Fear not, longtime contributors, you’ll get points for feedback that you’ve given since the beginning of the program.

There’s also a leaderboard where you can see how you stack up against your friends in the Preview program (or other program members).  More bonus point opportunities are planned as well.

Take a look at My stats in action:

If you’re in the Preview program, and want to learn more about earning points, go to the Preview Forums or the Help page in the Preview Dashboard.

For more info on the Xbox One Preview program, click here.