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Mike Ybarra, Head of Platform Engineering for Xbox gives an update on a number of features coming to Xbox One and Windows 10. Read the story here:


2017 is going to be a monumental year for gaming at Microsoft. Whether you play on Xbox One, a Windows 10 PC, your mobile phone, or anywhere you sign-in with Xbox Live, we’re going to make your gaming experiences easier, more social, and better with innovative hardware and software features throughout the year.

We’re focused on feedback from our fans and innovative, new ideas from our engineering teams that will enhance gaming on the Xbox One and will make Windows 10 the best operating system for PC gaming. In October, as a part of the Creators Update, we announced that Beam, gamer-created tournaments, and other fan requested features would be coming. We’re kicking off 2017 by introducing some of these features next week, with more updates to share in the coming months.

These updates are about four key themes: Streaming, Performance, People, and Competition. We’ll make it easier to stream than ever before, by making Beam a feature on Xbox One and Windows 10. We’ll improve the performance of your PC games through the all new Windows Game Mode. And we’ll release Arena on Xbox Live, where you can play in organized tournaments or create your own, making eSports available for everyone.

Instantly stream to Beam on Windows 10 and Xbox One
We’re building Beam as a feature of Xbox One and Windows 10, making Beam one of the easiest and quickest ways to stream your gameplay.

Beam will connect to your Xbox Live account, making it easy to stream your favorite games to Beam and your Xbox Live community. No extra software is needed and viewers anywhere will be able to watch your streams and interact with your broadcast. On a Windows 10 PC, press Windows + G to pull up the Game bar and click the broadcast button to start streaming. On Xbox One, you can start streaming with one button press from inside the Guide.

Increased performance in gaming
Our goal is to make Windows 10 the best Windows ever for gaming. With the Creators Update, we’re introducing a new feature called Game Mode. Windows Insiders will start seeing some of the visual elements for Game Mode this week, with the feature being fully operational in builds shortly thereafter. Our vision is for Game Mode to optimize your Windows 10 PC for increased performance in gaming. This is a big update for Windows; we’re looking forward to Insiders getting their hands on this new feature for further testing, and we’ll have much more to share on what it is and how it works soon, so stayed tuned.

In addition, every Xbox One will see an update coming to the Guide that will make it faster to complete common tasks. Through one press of the Xbox button on your controller, you’ll be able to pull up the newly enhanced Guide as an overlay on the left side of your screen no matter what you’re doing. In addition, we’re rebuilding the most popular multitasking experiences for speed and ease of access. For example, you’ll be able to start recording your GameDVR clips, adjust your recording length, and access your captures directly in the Guide. We’ll also add a new Achievement tracking overlay, Gamerscore Leaderboard, a new Cortana design, and controls for background music, making these features easier and use.

Better ways to find, stay in touch, and share with your gaming friends
We’re improving the ways you can stay in touch with friends on Xbox Live by making it easier to connect with people you care about on other social networks. We’re also adding updates to the Activity Feed, so you can connect and share more with your gaming friends. With additional improvements to Clubs and Looking For Group (LFG), like better moderator tools for Clubs and the ability to share LFG posts in your feed, we’re making it even easier to seek out players for any game on Xbox and Windows 10, and join communities of gamers like you.

You define the rules of competition
New tournaments are coming to Arena on Xbox Live, including those from professional tournament organizers like ESL and FACEIT. And starting with “World of Tanks” and “Killer Instinct”, you’ll be able to create your own Arena tournaments, with more supported titles coming over time. Once your tournament is created, you can invite your friends and members of your club can see it and join. And when the tournament ends, the results will be automatically recorded so you can share them on Xbox Live and across your social networks.

As part of the Creators Update, we’re just getting started. We have a few surprises on the horizon and more features to share with you soon. Get excited, stay tuned, and see you on Xbox Live!

Mike Ybarra
Gamertag: Qwik
Twitter: @XboxQwik

Spencer Hooks, Director of Gaming, Dolby Laboratories, talks about how Xbox will be the first game console to feature Dolby Atmos and how bringing Dolby Atmos support to Xbox One and Windows 10 gaming next year will bring you even further inside the action and sound of your favorite titles. Many of you know how particular I am about audio, so this is welcomed news for me. Read the rest of his comments below:

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“Justice rains from above!”

If you play Overwatch, that sentence may give you nightmares. It’s Pharah’s catch phrase as she hangs in the air and lets loose a barrage of rockets that destroy everything in their path. Pharah’s attack is so effective in part because you may not be able to tell where it’s coming from.

But I have a secret weapon to defend against Pharah’s barrage: Dolby Atmos. Dolby Atmos is sound so precise you can pinpoint exactly where Pharah is and avoid her wrath. And the great news is that starting next year, Dolby Atmos will be coming to Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs and tablets.

With Dolby Atmos, sound moves precisely all around and above you. You can hear where your allies and enemies are in three-dimensional space. Snipers on the roof? You’ll hear them over your left shoulder and know where to aim to take them out. The same goes for an attacker with a jet pack hovering behind you.

Beyond its tactical advantages, Dolby Atmos also makes your experience of a game much more intense. You’ll feel like you’re inside the action as the voices, sounds and music move all around you.

Xbox will be the first game console to feature Dolby Atmos and game developers are excited about using the new capabilities to make their games richer and more engaging. Atmos support for the Blu-ray app on Xbox is already available in Preview and will be released to GA soon – and we’re very excited now to offer Atmos support to games on Xbox One and Windows 10.

You’ll be able to experience Dolby Atmos in your home theater, assuming you have a Dolby Atmos enabled speaker system or soundbar. But you don’t need to have that kind of equipment – it will be possible to enable virtually any pair of headphones with the Dolby Atmos experience.

Mike Ybarra, Xbox’s Head of Platform Engineering, had this to say on our exciting partnership: “At Team Xbox, we are all gamers first, and bringing Dolby Atmos support to Xbox One and Windows 10 gaming next year will bring you even further inside the action and sound of your favorite titles. A big thank you to the team at Dolby for their partnership; we’re excited to share more with the Xbox community next year.”

Of course, Dolby Atmos is great for more than just games. The technology began in the cinema and many of Hollywood’s top films are available on Blu-ray disc or streaming with Dolby Atmos sound. With Dolby Atmos, you’re immersed in the movie like never before, with sounds moving all around you, just as it does in real life. You’ll get that immersive experience whether you’re playing a Dolby Atmos film on your Xbox One or a Windows 10 PC or tablet.

Xbox Blu-ray Bitstream Pass-Through

This week Xbox also announced that Blu-ray Bitstream pass-through, which includes Dolby Atmos support on Xbox One and Xbox One S, would be rolling out to Xbox Preview members. This feature enables all Xbox consoles to pass Blu-ray audio data untouched to a user’s audio equipment, allowing your audio receiver or other audio device to produce a high quality, immersive sound experience.

A top fan-requested feature, it enables Xbox users who have invested in pro-audio set-ups to experience the best possible audio from their Blu-ray movies. To use this feature, you will need to have your console connected over HDMI to a compatible audio receiver which supports decoding of popular Blu-ray audio formats.

If you’re an Xbox Preview member, here are some helpful tips on how to enable:

  • Ensure your console is connected via HDMI to a device that supports decoding of Blu-ray audio formats.
  • Make sure you have the latest Blu-ray player by checking the “Updates” tab under “My Games & Apps.”
  • Enable “Let my receiver decode audio (beta)” under the “Disc & Blu-ray” settings page.
  • Insert your favorite DVD or Blu-ray disc.
  • Kick back and enjoy the highest quality audio from your movies and TV shows.

For more info for Xbox Preview Members, you can visit the forums here.

Dolby and Xbox will have more to share next year on timing and availability of Dolby Atmos for gaming audio. Enjoy!

 

Content: ABZU
Check price and availability in your Xbox LIVE region

Game Description: From the artistic mind behind Journey and Flower, ABZÛ is a beautiful underwater adventure that evokes the dream of diving. Immerse yourself in a vibrant ocean world full of mystery and bursting with color and life. Perform fluid acrobatics as the Diver, using graceful swimming controls. Linger in epic seascapes and explore aquatic ecosystems modeled with unprecedented detail. Descend into the heart of the ocean where ancient secrets lie forgotten. But beware, dangers lurk in the depths. “ABZÛ” is from the oldest mythologies; AB, meaning water, and ZÛ, meaning to know. ABZÛ is the ocean of wisdom.

Xbox Live Gold members save 15% – Limited Time Offer

Purchase ABZU for Xbox One from the Xbox Games Store

Product Info:
Developer: Giant Squid
Publisher: 505 Games
Website: ABZU
Twitter: @AbzuGame / @GiantSquidology / @505_Games

We’re celebrating the 15 year anniversary of Halo and Xbox this week and to promote the special occasion we’re adding a number of new images to the Xbox One gamerpic gallery. These new images are starting to roll out over the coming days but may take some time to appear in all Xbox Live regions. To change your gamerpic, go to Settings, About Me, Customize profile, Change gamerpic (this may vary if you’re a Preview Program member with the New Xbox One Experience).

Browse the gallery and you should see the new Halo And Xbox 15 Year Anniversary images – shown below:

You can download a .ZIP file containing all of the images here: Halo And Xbox 15 Year Anniversary

/ Larry Hryb / @majornelson

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With the latest Xbox One System update, we have added Clubs as one of the many new features. I wanted to let everyone know that based on the feedback received from our Xbox Insider audience and the data collected, we have adjusted the maximum of invites each club can send and go unanswered. Most clubs won’t notice any changes. But if you are one of the few clubs that has reached that maximum, when you try to send new club invites, only a subset will be sent. The other invites will be dropped silently. To avoid hitting the club maximum of unanswered invites, ensure that:

  • You direct future members of your club to hit “Request to join” instead of sending them an invite
  • You send smaller amount of invites to only future members you know will be interested in your club

If you are in the Xbox Insider program, be sure to file feedback on this or other features as that is the best way to sent ideas/feedback to the product team.

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Clubs and Looking for Group (LFG) on Xbox Live will be launching to the broader community soon on Xbox One and the Xbox app, giving you access to more people to play with and more choice in how you play. To make sure you hit the ground running and make the most of Clubs and LFG, we sat down with two engineers on the Xbox team to share walkthrough tutorials on the features and chat about their experiences helping bring them to life.

Clubs on Xbox Live | Jasmine Lawrence – Program Manager

Q. Before we dive in, can you tell the readers a little about yourself?

A. I’ve been working on team Xbox for three and a half years. I started here as an intern on the team and came back right out of college to help launch the first Xbox One console. My Gamertag is ‘Iam Full of WIN.’ I am a very competitive Achievement hunter that spends most of my time playing puzzle platformers or indie games.

Q. So what is Clubs on Xbox Live?

A. Clubs are gamer-created and managed groups that can help you meet people and grow communities of gamers who love the same things you do. Anyone can join or create a Club, and you’ll probably see a Club for just about anything. It’s a way for gamers to connect and have fun with other people that share the same interests. I think Clubs are important because they create communities that you can go back to again and again to hang out with similar people, which makes your gaming experience even better.

Q. What was your most memorable moment working on Clubs?

A. The most memorable moment for me was when we first released to Preview and within days there were thousands of Clubs. It was amazing to see people using the feature and getting great feedback on what we could do next.

Q. What was the most challenging aspect of helping bring Clubs to Xbox Live?

A. The most challenging aspect of Clubs was scoping the feature set or picking what we would build out for the feature’s launch. There are literally hundreds of suggestions from gamers, our research team and even fellow gamers on Team Xbox on what we could do for this holiday. It was tough to pick the right ones to release for our Xbox Holiday Update.

Q. Where do you and the team see Clubs going in the future?

A. Clubs has incredible potential to change the way people play. In the future, we hope to integrate more with features like Arena and the Gamerscore Leaderboard, and provide even more opportunities for gamers to share and advertise their Clubs to friends and potential new members.

Q. Does Clubs look different from what the team originally envisioned for the feature?

A. It’s not too different from what we imagined Clubs would look like, but we have been surprised by the trends in how people have been using them. We are proud of the diversity of the type of Clubs that have been created. From the ‘Anime’ Club and ‘Awesome Screenshots’ Club, to the ‘Meeting New Gamers’ Club, people are coming together on Xbox Live and connecting to play their favorite games or share content based on their interests.

Q. Any tips for gamers using Clubs for the first time?

A. If you’re new to clubs, I would recommend checking out our Club Discovery area to find a Club based on games you are currently playing or check out the Clubs your friends are in by going to the ‘Following & clubs’ section on their profile. I’d also encourage users to make a Club that fosters the culture they want if they don’t find what they’re looking for via search. There are millions of gamers out there and Clubs is a great way to bring people together.

 

Looking for Group | Keith Kline – Program Manager 

Q. Can you share some of your background with the readers?

A. I started at Microsoft in 2000 right after I graduated from Penn State with a degree in Computer Engineering. I’ve been on the Xbox Live team for almost 10 years now, currently on the multiplayer team. My Gamertag is Kramer, which I’ve been using since the original Xbox Live beta launched. I play a lot of different game genres varying from FPS, sports, platformers and puzzle games. If it’s on Xbox Live, I’ll probably try it. One of my favorite gaming moments happened a few years ago, when I was crowned the Super Bowl champion of a Madden tournament among the Xbox Live team (32 team members played through an entire NFL season and playoffs).

Q. Can you explain what LFG is?

A. Looking for Group, also known as LFG, helps you quickly find other players that you want to game with. It’s essentially like posting a gaming “want-ad” to the Xbox community. Whether you want to Achievement hunt, play a co-op campaign for Gears of War 4, or do a daily quest, with LFG, you can set the requirements you want to get the right group together. And it works for all Xbox One games, all Backward Compatible Xbox 360 games, and a growing list of top PC games.

Q. What was your most memorable moment working on LFG?

A. I would say both the community reaction to our E3 announcement and when Preview members started to use the feature. The feedback was very positive, and seeing it used in the different ways we intended it to be used for was extremely satisfying. The stories we’ve heard from gamers who’ve had great LFG experiences are priceless.

Q. What was the most challenging aspect of helping bring LFG to Xbox Live?

A. We wanted to make sure this feature could be used for all games on Xbox Live, not just the newest and most popular games. Making it easier to group up for the latest games, while also giving gamers tools to breathe new life into their old favorites was a goal of ours. Finding that balance was difficult, but we feel the end result delivers a powerful feature on top of something most gamers are already comfortable doing.

Q. Where do you and the team see LFG going in the future?

A. Some of the things we’d like to do is acknowledge great LFG hosts, improve scheduled LFGs with more options, and give hosts access to more data when vetting applicants. But the highest priority improvements will be the ones the gamers ask for, so keep the feedback coming. The community has been great about providing feedback while LFG has been in Preview, and we’ll continue to listen and evolve LFG once it’s available broadly.

Q. Does LFG look different from what the team originally envisioned for the feature?

A. I think if you look back at the goals we had in mind when deciding to build this feature, the team did a great job of executing on that vision. Like most healthy teams, compromises and tough cuts had to be made. But I think for the most part, the final result is something the whole team is proud of and is really giving gamers a great way to find people to play with. Of course, we are not planning on stopping here, so we will continue to add features to LFG.

Q. Any tips for gamers using LFG for the first time?

A. If you are new to using LFG, I would suggest searching for an LFG to apply for rather than hosting your own. Go to the Game Hub of the game you want to play, and find an LFG that matches what you want to do. Get a feel for your experience when joining someone else’s LFG, and then use that to decide how you might want to control your own experience.

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Feedback from our fans is important to all of us here at Xbox, and one of the more popular places to give feedback is through the Xbox Preview Program. Since the program launched in February 2014, your feature requests, ideas, and millions of votes have helped shape and improve your Xbox experience for the whole community. We’re happy to share news about what’s next for the Xbox Preview Program, including some improvements and more ways for fans to help shape the future of Xbox.

The first change is that the Xbox Preview Program is becoming the Xbox Insider Program. This new name reflects how we are expanding to offer opt-in opportunities to provide feedback on Game and App Previews alongside System Update previews.

Next, we have an update to the Xbox Preview Dashboard that has been rebuilt from the ground-up based on fan feedback. A few highlights include:

  • A new name – the Xbox Insider Hub
  • Personalized to give you more relevant announcements, quests, and Insider content opportunities to get early access to select games and apps
  • A new UI, inspired by the New Xbox One Experience, makes it easier to find the right info and provide more robust feedback
  • The Xbox Insider profile card where your contributions in the program come front and center
  • Support for multiple users on a console to participate and provide feedback

We’re starting to roll these changes out today to a small number of preview members who have provided the most feedback since the inception of the Xbox Preview Program. If you have your Xbox One console in Instant-on mode and you have the Xbox Preview Dashboard app installed, then you don’t have to do anything – the app will update automatically overnight. If you want to see the changes sooner, you can check for updates by going to My games and apps, and then looking at the updates section. Over the next few weeks, all existing Xbox Preview members will get access to the new Xbox Insider Hub.

Our final change is that the Xbox Insider Program will soon be open to all Xbox users. More fans will have the ability to provide feedback directly from their Xbox One consoles. The Xbox Insider Hub will provide great opportunities to try out games, apps, and other console experiences. Note that Xbox system updates will currently be limited to those already testing them (not open to new members), as we still have a huge number of volunteers already doing a great job testing and providing feedback. For more detailed info, check out the Xbox Insider Program FAQ located here.

Whether you’re an Xbox Insider who enjoys previewing the latest Xbox One system updates, or an Insider who loves checking out the beta of the latest installment in your favorite franchise, you’ll now get to choose how to participate. We hope you enjoy the new experience. Be sure to let us know what you think by taking surveys in the Xbox Insider Hub, or on the Xbox.com forums. Thank you for participating, and know that each of you is a huge part of making Xbox a great place for all of us to play!

Content: Gas Guzzlers Extreme
Check price and availability in your Xbox LIVE region

Game Description: Gas Guzzlers Extreme is a fast, furious, armed-to-the-teeth, trigger-happy shooter, shifted into top gear! Take a white knuckle ride in this crazily addictive combat racing game that features a ton of vehicles, weapons, upgrades, on-track bonuses and environments. Gas Guzzlers Extreme is an exciting new twist on the car combat experience with the addition of furious team combat battles.

Try it FREE

Purchase Gas Guzzlers Extreme for Xbox One from the Xbox Games Store

Product Info:
Developer: Gamepires
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Website: Gas Guzzlers Extreme
Twitter: @Gamepires / @Iceberg_Int