In a surprise announcement at the Halo 5 launch event, Phil Spencer revealed that the Xbox One Experience update and backwards compatibility will launch on Nov. 12.
No one particularly expected news to break during tonight’s Halo 5: Guardians launch event. Sure, the Xbox One PR team would throw a huge party and Halo‘s biggest fans would get punch drunk on hype, but everyone’s used to that by now. Phil Spencer, Xbox boss, decided to mix things up a little bit while speaking at the launch event. He announced that the Xbox One Experience update, the huge UI for Microsoft’s gaming console, as well as backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games will be launching on November 12.
Currently the Xbox One Experience is going through rigorous testing in the Xbox One Preview Program, a beta program for a small portion of Xbox One users. Early word of mouth makes the update sound very appealing, but not ready for prime time in terms of stability. Considering the positive buzz and what must be internal data showing the stability of the update, Phil Spencer apparently feels confident enough to give the update a firm release date.
Oddly enough, this reveal comes less than a week after Giant Bomb had a conversation with Microsoft Engineers who specifically said it was too early to begin discussing a “firm date” for the update to be released. Perhaps some sort of compromise occurred to get an older, more stable version of Xbox One Experience out earlier. Then Microsoft can roll out optimizations for the platform in the weeks and months ahead.
As for what specifically Xbox One users can expect, the Xbox One Experience is a system-wide update that implements Windows 10 technology on the hardware. In other words, it’s going to be a very jarring experience at first. Microsoft is marketing the update on several key points, including: faster performance, improved game experience, vertical scrolling for speedier browsing, expanded social content and engagement. Microsoft breaks down the specifics a bit more closely on their website, but the takeaway is a bigger, faster, and all around improved Xbox One experience.
Backwards compatibility is another beast entirely. Microsoft insists that as many as 100 titles will be available “this fall,” though only 23 such games are currently available through the Xbox One Preview Program. Microsoft seems to have bigger plans than the Preview Program is showing, though. They’re already selling packages bundling big holiday launches like Fallout 4 and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition with titles from their franchises released on the Xbox 360. Exactly what games will be playable when the service launches on November 12 will be anyone’s guess. As long as Burnout Paradise is being worked on, everything should be just fine.
It has to be said, this feels very early to launch the Xbox One Experience and backwards compatibility. There are a large number of bug reports coming out of the Preview Program and even if Microsoft has an internal version that’s proven much more stable, launching an update as big as this in the weeks before Black Friday seems like a very risky proposition. If something goes wrong then the launches of Halo 5: Guardians and many other titles may also go very wrong. Phil Spencer’s got guts. Or he’s got a board of Windows 10-pushing executives breathing down his neck.
Xbox One Experience and backwards compatibility will be launching on November 12. Everybody cross your fingers.
Source: Major Nelson’s Twitter