As the Xbox One gets closer to its November launch, many questions remain about how the console works and what it can do. So we reached out to Microsoft and asked them if they could definitively clarify some of these things. They obliged, and so we'll be bringing you a handful of Ask Microsoft Anything answers each Monday at 2pm PDT/5pm EDT. Bookmark this page, as we'll update this article so that all the answers live in one easy-to-find place.
Oh, and if you've got a question for Microsoft about the Xbox One, send it to our Podcast Unlocked team at email@example.com and we'll make sure Microsoft sees it!
Are Xbox 360 Avatars transferring over? If so will any changes be made to them?
MARC WHITTEN, CHIEF XBOX ONE PLATFORM ARCHITECT: They are – your avatar will be on the system at launch and in fact, you’ll have some new options, including the ability to do full-body HD gamerpics. By the way, we should actually talk more about gamerpics too. We’ve moved from the 64x64 gamerpics on Xbox 360 to a full 1080p. They are beautiful, and you are going to see some really cool hero moments, like when you login to see personalized views of your games and other content.
Can you clarify how will Xbox Live Arcade work on Xbox One? Or if it will exist at all?
WHITTEN: Sure – there is no difference between games in the store – games are games are games! You’ll find them in the same pivots (most popular, new, etc.) and we’ll be highlighting them in our dashboard experience. And of course – like all of your digital games content – you can play them on any Xbox One, and anyone can play them on your Xbox One. ..
Can you earn two sets of Achievements for the same game (i.e. Playing Call of Duty Ghosts on Xbox 360 and on Xbox One)?
WHITTEN: Every game has its own set of achievements, so if you’re playing Call of Duty: Ghosts on Xbox 360 and on Xbox One, you can earn a separate set of Gamerscore in each game. But on the Xbox One version, you’re getting a much richer set of features, such as seeing your achievements progress on the Xbox One console, being able to unlock new achievements throughout the year, and earning real prizes inside and outside of the game. Xbox One also enables a new concept of challenges, where games will be offering special time-based opportunities to earn various goals and collect the rewards. More info on challenges can be found on Major Nelson's blog here.
Can you organize your now-expanded Friends List into categories? i.e. “College buddies,” “Friends from work,” etc.
MARC WHITTEN, CHIEF XBOX ONE PLATFORM ARCHITECT: You’ll see us add more in this area in the future. At launch, you’ll have your expanded list of friends and the ability to mark favorites so that it is fast and easy to play with the friends you care about most.Is there cross-console Party Chat? i.e. since it’s all “Xbox Live,” can people on Xbox 360s Party Chat with their friends on Xbox One?
WHITTEN: For a variety of technical reasons – including the sound quality that I talk about below – we don’t support voice chat between the two systems. You will still be able to send and receive text messages to friends on both systems, however.OK, so we can't chat across systems. But can I at least see what my friends are doing on either console?
WHITTEN: Yes – you see your friends on both systems, including their rich presence. My friends that are still on Xbox 360, for example, might see that I’m on Xbox One, playing Ryse. Since I can have more than 100 friends on Xbox One, if I go back to Xbox 360 and I have more than 100 friends, it will only show me the subset of my friends who are friends with me on Xbox 360.Since Kinect must be plugged in for the Xbox One to function, what happens if your Kinect breaks? Like if it falls off the top of your TV onto a hardwood floor or something? Will the console cease to function?
WHITTEN: Xbox One is designed to work with Kinect plugged in. It makes gaming better in many ways – from the ability to say “Xbox On” and get right to your personalized homescreen, to the ability to control your TV through voice, Smartglass and more. Kinect allows you to search for your content, instantly move between games and your personalized dash and more with just your voice. Kinect helps you pick up and play by automatically knowing which controller you have in your hands. No more need to interrupt your friends game or navigate through multiple UI screens to sign in and tell the system which controller you are holding. It will even bind the controller to the console if its currently unbound – no searching for special buttons! Of course – these are just a few of the system wide benefits of having Kinect. Games use Kinect in a variety of amazing ways from adding voice to control your squad mates to adding lean and other simple controls beyond the controller to full immersive gameplay. That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.How “off” can Kinect be when the system is in use?
WHITTEN: You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings. When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.Is there a chat headset included in the Xbox One box or not?
As you saw in Major Nelson’s unboxing video, the console comes with our mono audio headset. This is an area where we’ve worked hard to improve the audio quality – and it is night and day compared to chat on the Xbox 360. The Xbox One audio chat headset now streams 24 kHz at a 16-bit resolution uncompressed both downstream and upstream compared to the Xbox 360 headset that streamed 16 kHz downstream and 8 kHz upstream at a 14-bit resolution compressed. I think people are going to be very happy with the audio in game chat and parties.
Can developers still lock Party Chat in multiplayer games?
MARC WHITTEN, CHIEF XBOX ONE PLATFORM ARCHITECT: Game developers don’t have control over the party chat channel. However, they do know if a player is specifically in a party chat channel versus game chat.
With the upgraded audio codec for chat, is 8 people still the maximum for Party Chat?
WHITTEN: We are looking at higher limits on party size. It will be at least 8 people chatting at a time. We may either increase the number of people that can be chatting at once or potentially allow more people in the party channel if only a smaller number is chatting. Stay tuned!
Do I need to download demos, or can I stream them?
WHITTEN: Just like regular games, Xbox One allows you to start playing while the game continues to download.
Now that XBLA is not its own thing and games are simply games no matter how they're distributed, will digitally downloaded games release on Tuesdays, where XBLA titles hit on Wednesdays?
WHITTEN: Games are games are games! You’ll see digital content flowing into the system constantly. We will continue to run different programs – like Summer of Arcade on Xbox 360 for instance – as well.
Will we be able to have longer gamertag names?
WHITTEN: No, we are staying with our current naming scheme for Xbox LIVE gamertags.
Last week you answered how long the included HDMI cable is, but how long is the Kinect's cable?
WHITTEN: The Kinect cable is 3 meters long.
Q: What happens day one when I buy the system? I bring it home, plug it into my TV and outlet then what? I realize there is going to be a setup for my TV, my language, etc. Can I just bring my profile over on a flash drive? Do I have to recover my profile over Xbox Live?
MARC WHITTEN, CHIEF XBOX ONE PLATFORM ARCHITECT: There is a quick setup to get your system connected and up-to-date. After that, getting your profile is as simple as entering your account’s email address and password.
Will I be able to get pre-order bonuses and special edition versions on digitally downloaded games?
WHITTEN: Yes! You’ll see more details here in the future.
Will Xbox One have any TV DVR functionality? Or is the DVR just for games?
WHITTEN: It’s easy to use your current DVR with Xbox One. Our focus is on making the TV experience great – with favorite channels, voice control (including play, pause, fast forward and rewind with your DVR) and more. This is an area where you’ll see us drive more innovation over the years to come.
Will a top-of-the-TV mounting clip be sold for Kinect?
WHITTEN: We recommend locating Kinect in the middle of your television, either above or below the screen on a secure surface. We anticipate there will be some third party mounting offerings in the future.
Will the Kinect sync to your voice? Let's say your friends want to mess with you by saying" Xbox Off." Will we be able to make it only respond to our voice?
WHITTEN: We are focused on ensuring that we have great voice support which includes understanding which person is speaking in the room. Additionally, for actions that are potentially destructive, we have a confirmation dialog which will be the case for “Xbox Off.”
Will digitally downloaded games be able to be pre-loaded before release, so that they're simply unlocked and ready to go at 12:01am on the day of release?
MARC WHITTEN, CHIEF XBOX ONE PLATFORM ARCHITECT: Not at launch, but you’ll see us do this and much more over the life of the program.
If I sign in to Xbox Live on my Xbox One, will I also be able to sign in on the same account on my 360 at the same time? Say someone is using the Xbox One in the living room and I'm playing my 360 in my bedroom. Will I be able to use the same account?
WHITTEN: Yes this works! You’ll be able to be signed on with the same gamertag on both an Xbox 360 and an Xbox One console at the same time. However, like today, you can only be signed into one Xbox 360 and one Xbox One at a time.
Given that Rep (Reputation) will now factor into Xbox One's online matchmaking (whereas it didn't before on the Xbox 360), will everyone's Rep be reset to provide an initial playing field? Since there are new rules, shouldn't everyone be able to demonstrate themselves as good players right from the start? Or will players be penalized for past mistakes? In other words, will previous account infractions carry over to Xbox One?
WHITTEN: We will not carry over any of the 360 reputation scores into the new Xbox One reputation system. The majority of members will start fresh at the “Good” player level.
We will be working with the Xbox Live enforcement team that has identified a small subset of members that have recently had enforcement actions taken against them and set those members reputation to an initial “Needs Works” level. This will give those members a chance to prove they can participate on Live fairly, and are not automatically placed in the “Avoid Me” classification where things like SmartMatch filtering will affect them.
Will Xbox One work as a Windows Media Center Extender? For those that use a PC with TV tuner to record and watch TV, we use the 360 as an extender to stream this content to TVs. Will this continue with Xbox One?
WHITTEN: Xbox One isn’t a native Media Center Extender. We’ll continue to work to enable more ways for everyone to get the television they want over the life of the program.
Microsoft required Xbox Live Arcade games to have a demo, making it easy to test out these titles before buying. Now that "games are games are games" what can we expect from demos on Xbox One?
WHITTEN: Not all games will have demos like Xbox Live arcade games have had on Xbox 360. That said, we are going to work on lots of ways to make it easy for you to find and try new games on the service.
Is the console region-free, or just the software?
MARC WHITTEN, CHIEF XBOX ONE PLATFORM ARCHITECT: Neither the console or the software have any region locks.
Will I be able to use the Xbox One's Kinect to scan in codes (QR codes)? Like for Xbox live subscriptions, avatar gear, or pre-order bonus for weapons or map packs?
WHITTEN: Yes, this is something we really like and you’ll see us use it for a variety of digital offerings and more.
Here is an odd question. Will the Xbox One be able to use the HD-DVD drive from the Xbox 360?
WHITTEN: No, we don’t have any support for playing HD-DVD with the Xbox One.
Is Skype coming to Xbox 360 (as an app, presumably)?
WHITTEN: For now, our focus is on making Skype on Xbox One a premiere experience. The Kinect sensor on Xbox One is great for capturing voice and video with very high quality. With the system architecture of Xbox One, it’s easy to instantly move between experiences – including Skype – and to allow you to get Skype calls and have a Skype conversation regardless of what else you are doing on the console.
Will you be releasing old, inactive Gamertags for use on the Xbox One?
WHITTEN: We’ve released inactive gamertags in the past, but it’s been a while. Stay tuned.
What is the minimum distance you can stand and have the Xbox One Kinect function properly?
MARC WHITTEN, CHIEF XBOX ONE PLATFORM ARCHITECT: Well, it depends on how tall you are and where you place your sensor. But on average, a 6 feet tall person can stand 2 feet closer than they could with the first generation Kinect sensor.
Will you offer extension cables for the Kinect sensor? For those of us whose AV racks are a bit further than 3 meters away...
WHITTEN: It is something we are looking at, but don’t have anything to announce at this time.
Any chance, with the power of the cloud and new online functionality, that games and experiences like 1 vs. 100 might come back? i.e. "live" video games?
WHITTEN: Great question – we believe in the power of the community and live events and “1 vs. 100” is a great example of that in the past. We’ve been focused on building experiences around live or linear content – sports, fitness, live events and more. You’ll see many of these ideas in products like our NFL experience, the UFC experience and much more. This is an area where we will keep experimenting and learning with our community.
Is there a more robust stat tracking for seeing how long you have played each game?
WHITTEN: In Xbox One you will find a consistent and powerful experience for tracking your own activity and progress in any game or app, as well as comparing your stats with the people you care about. Some of the interesting gameplay statistics you can track include how long you have played and your overall progress on each game. In addition to this, each game and app will be able to showcase compelling and engaging aspects of their title (we call these hero stats) and display this directly on the Xbox One dashboard.
Outside of pinning favorite games, how will I be able to organize my digital games?
WHITTEN: Your home screen always has the five things you've done most recently to give you fast access to the games you play the most. Your library shows you every game and game add-on you own, digital and physical, whether or not you have it installed, sorted by what you've done most recently. But Pins are the best way to organize the games, apps, websites, movies and TV shows, and music you care about.
When we first get an Xbox One, will we be able to start off fresh and change our gamertag for free, or will we have to pay for it?
MARC WHITTEN, CHIEF XBOX ONE PLATFORM ARCHITECT: All of our gamertags will come over from the existing Xbox LIVE community. We have no changes to our policies in this space.
Will we be able to import our own JPEG’s, etc. for use as Gamerpics?
WHITTEN: We are focused on building out a beautiful collection of 1080p gamerpics for our users on Xbox One. You’ll also be able to create full-body poses of your Avatar to use as a gamerpic. You’ll see us do much more here in the future. At launch, we expect to have 300 gamerpics to choose from. Here are three examples:
Will we be able to enter a nickname for our friends on our list? Instead of seeing their gamertag, I could enter, "Brian," or whatever I want to use to identify him besides his gamertag...
WHITTEN: Good idea! We’ll look at that idea in the future. At launch, one of the things we will provide is the ability to add a friend to a favorites list, so you can keep up with both the broader set of people on your list and the people you play with most.
Will the SmartGlass app itself have any type of multitasking features?
WHITTEN: Xbox SmartGlass is the optimal multitasking companion for Xbox One. You can easily access the Xbox OneGuide to see what’s on TV and change channels, keep up with what your friends are doing on Xbox, view GameDVR clips, view achievements and challenges, and snap apps on your Xbox One directly from your phone or tablet.
If you’re playing a multiplayer game like Battlefield and the developer pushes out a relatively large update while you’re playing, will it download in the background then kick everyone off later? Or does it kick everyone off right away and you have to wait for the download to finish?
WHITTEN: Content providers will have the ability to push two types of content updates with Xbox One: ones that are immediately mandatory like in Xbox 360 and ones that are optional. If you opt to not take an optional update, you can continue to play online and do the update at a later time.
How large is the Xbox One’s Day One update? How long will it take to install?
MARC WHITTEN, XBOX ONE CHIEF PLATFORM ARCHITECT: We are optimizing Xbox One so that the day one update is as fast as possible. While we’re still finalizing the details, we expect that the download will take between 15 and 20 minutes for most users.
Does every single multiplayer game on Xbox One, regardless of developer or publisher, get dedicated servers because of the cloud? Or is it still a game-by-game thing?
WHITTEN: Every title can take advantage of our cloud services. Think of it as a tool in the toolbox for our developers to drive their vision and our goal is to make it easy and simple for them to do so.
Do you guys plan to update the dashboard once or sometimes twice a year as you currently do with the Xbox 360?
WHITTEN: Yes. Like we have done with Xbox 360, we will continue to learn from what customers want and love to iterate on the best dashboard experience.
Will Twitter/Facebook return on Xbox One?
WHITTEN: We continue to work with great partners to bring the best app experiences to Xbox One. While I can’t comment on the specifics of these two partners right now, at launch you will be able to access Twitter and Facebook through the Internet Explorer web browser on Xbox One at launch.
Will a rechargeable battery pack be offered for the controller?
WHITTEN: Yes! The Play and Charge kit includes a rechargeable battery and micro-USB cable, with a charging indicator light. It will be available at launch for $24.99.
So this is supposed to go for a couple of Mondays, so this should be pretty cool for a while. Maybe it'll go until week of launch, and then some. That avatar stuff seems pretty neat! Its better than a tiny picture thing. Very cool. :)
EDIT: So I guess that's it. Hm.