32 Responses to XBOX: Fail

  1. rjohn05 says:

    I agree with a lot of your comments here. Voice interaction has been difficult for me too.

  2. rjohn05 says:

    I find the voice control aspects to be a major pain. Hopefully natural language is incorporated into a 2014 update.

  3. This is clearly a V.1.1 man cave box. I am the guy it was made for, the single, game player who does not have to deal with a room full of barking dogs and screaming kids. For what it does do nicely, which is “Xbox go to Netflix, go to Hulu, go to Forza, go to Skydrive, watch TV, volume up, volume down, pause, fast forward, it all works nicely, but only after a large dose of practice. I never pick up my remote controls, they are tucked away in the drawer, but I don’t watch a lot of TV either. I’m a cord cutter.

    I was very disappointed to hear that there would be no simplified box similar to Roku or Apple TV for consumers that need SIMPLICITY 2.0. My fear is that the rumored “Cortana” won’t be a culmination of 20 years of natural language study, but another v.1 for us credit card carrying beta testers.

    The voice works nice for me, but I shudder to think what it is like in a room full of people that don’t get it. Just being able to resume a game quickly from yesterday after turning the box off, and quickly going back and forth between TV, Netflix and an ongoing game makes me never want to go back to the 360, but there is much work to be done here. It’s a shame us early adopters don’t get benefits for what we go through. The door really is wide open for the other guys to do it right, but it better be right from the start.

  4. smallmountain says:

    I have similar frustrations with the Xbox 360 with Kinect that I got this Christmas. The 360 does not carry the expectations for non-game home entertainment that the Xbox One does, of course. But I thought it would allow me to play the music I own on a PC in the same room over the home theater system that the Xbox was plugged into. I tried using Xbox Music, and was happy to see that it found the music on the PC, but when I went to play a playlist, I was asked if I wanted a subscription (no, dude, I’m playing musing I ALREADY OWN), and then it would only play 30-second samples of the songs in the playlist. So I have Xbox Live Gold, but that’s apparently not enough for my to play music I own through the Xbox 360.

    I then tried to set up the whole Windows Media Center Extender thing, knowing I would hate it but wondering what it was like. I had to pay $10 to get WMC on my Windows 8.1 PC to even try this, and then it was unable to connect to the extender, with no real help as to why.

    Both my experience and your experience, plus the entire first year plus of Windows 8, prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that except for a few precious souls in the Windows Phone group, Microsoft does not have clue #1 about how to build and market products to consumers. None, zero, zilch, nada, bupkiss.

  5. I won an XBox One at my company’s holiday party (Grand Door Prize). I’m a developer, avid technologist, and a dedicated follower of all things Microsoft (not a single Apple product to be found inside my house).

    Would I pay $500 for it? Absolutely NOT. I’m not terribly interested in playing a lot of games (especially at $60 a pop), and the entertainment features are underwhelming to say the least.

    Why Microsoft chose NOT to make the XBox One work as a Media Center extender or DLNA client is beyond me. I have over 10,000 personal photos stored on my Media Center PC, 30+ TV series, 80+ movies, and my entire CD and digital audio collection (7000+ songs)… none of which I can access through the XBox One. Amazing.

    I can see future software updates boosting the functionality, but right now it’s more of a gadget than an entertainment hub.

    • halberenson says:

      You nailed it. Unless you are a gamer it is more curiosity than solution.

    • halberenson says:

      Well, because Media Center is dead so why would you put in effort to support it? The fact that there is no alternative is a problem.

      • Brian says:

        Oh, why did Media Center have to die? I realize that, by Microsoft Windows standards, it had no market share, but it was a marvelous thing. I’m sure that any other company would have been pleased with the number of Media Center customers there were.

        But now, my Verizon FIOS (POS) wireless router won’t route it in the house (I don’t know why, Verizon doesn’t seem to either), and as a result, my Xbox 360 downstairs no longer functions as a Media Center extender. I used Media Center as my “music center” (all of the music I own is up on the main house PC) and as a picture viewer. The native Xbox media UI pretty much sucks after you’ve gotten used to Media Center.

        I figure I might get an XB-1 in a year or so. By then, they’ll be on rev 3-ish of the hardware, out of “beta” on the software, and will probably have added enough services (photos, CD playback, etc.) that it would make it a decent replacement for my 360.

      • Peter Henning says:

        I agree. The real problem is that there is no alternative to Media Center from Microsoft.
        On the PC if you look at the functionality that is present in Media Center, Music, Pictures, Video this is essentially now present if you treat the metro start screen as the new Media Center interface.
        What is missing is the TV functionality and the extender functionality and the comfort of a remote.
        Why wasn’t a metro TV app for Win8 made to be a stopgap solution until internet streaming really takes over from cable?
        I’m sure the XBOX TV app could have been easily make available on Windows too.
        Also why isn’t it possible to use a media center remote to navigate the new start screen?
        Remote for Windows or Xbox might not be the future but it would surely make people comfortable now while voice command/Kinect matures. At least as you say make Smartglass behave a lot more like a remote.

        What I find truly strange is that MS launched Xbox one with this new OS instead of just opting to put windows on it. Media Center TV module had all the features TV integration Xbox has plus more (like proper PAL support for Europe) and the time could have been spent to rewrite this as a metro app.

        I honestly fail to see why Xbox OS has to be different from windows.
        Windows already scales to large screens well and all the special needs could have been catered for in ways that could be beneficial to the other form factors.
        Like separate login options can be added to different form factors (large screen vs. small screen, Kinect present or not). For games the separate gaming OS in VM is an idea Windows could also benefit from as Microsoft admitted they have neglected PC gaming for far too long and it is hurting them now.
        IMHO There is no real reason why Xbox metro has to look different from windows metro.

        So right now we have a product that doesn’t even have feature parity with the one it replaces. New functionality like Miracast support is missing.
        If you happen to live outside the US, it’s even worse. (btw. Media Center guide had a lot better international coverage).

        • halberenson says:

          One could give two answers to your questions about why a new OS. The first is that it isn’t, it is a version of Windows. It’s too customized, which is the reason for last summer’s reorganization. They’ll take the three consumer versions of Windows and merge them in a way that minimizes the differences to those things absolutely necessary to compete in their respective markets. But that will take time. The second reason is that it’s primary driver has been to be the world’s best game console and the gaming guys think differently. Why are the Xbox One’s entertainment capabilities so immature? Because shipping in time to meet the gaming console challenge from the PS/4 took priority.

          As for Media Center this is another one of those debates that is long dead even if not quite buried. MC never succeeded in penetrating the living room in any measurable way and long ago Microsoft switched this responsibility to the Xbox. OEMs briefly made hardware designed for the living room, but soon dropped them. That left consumers to try to configure them a complex process made more difficult by unsuitable components. Microsoft refused to target the professional installer community (which had more of a server focus) which is what dominated the scene at the time), hoping to directly reach consumers. It was too early for that move. Extenders never caught on with consumer electronics firms, and the few who did implement them (HP, for example, offered a TV with MCE support) soon withdrew them. The Xbox has MCE support, but I wonder how many people really used it. 50%? 10%? or 1-2%? I lost interest in Media Center for TV a decade ago when I moved to a place where I’m “stuck” with satellite TV because integration with those services never materialized. It was partially Microsoft’s fault (release timing) and partially the satellite providers (they kept dropping the ball on their set-top boxes). For others, the Cable companies dragged their feet on Cable Cards and when they did appear the rollout was not consumer friendly in any way (expensive, limited, etc.). Microsoft lost interest in cable, satellite, and broadcast TV.

          So Media Center has been a niche for many years now, though a large one. There has never been a priority to directly replace it as that is usually a recipe for failure. Legacy kills, or at least retards progress. A new product might accept another’s legacy if the other product was extremely successful (e.g., SQL Server 7.0 retaining the Sybase legacy because most ISVs already supported T-SQL, DB-Library, etc.), but why would you accept the legacy of a product that failed in the market segment you were trying to address?

          There is a market for the ability to watch TV on PCs and mobile devices and a myriad of ways to do so. The market has moved on to this content being delivered in website or app-specific ways. For example, every morning one of my friend’s sits down for breakfast with Bloomberg TV playing on his Surface. During last year’s nearby wildfire (that came all too close to home) I watched a local TV channel even though I was thousands of miles away in Europe. Both DirecTV and Comcast offer apps that let me watch on my PC or tablet. This is just not a space that demands, or would tolerate, a generic solution akin to what Microsoft tried to do with Media Center.

          • Peter Henning says:

            I do hope the true windows client merge will come sooner then later otherwise TVs will be again a market that Microsoft was a pioneer in and gets left behind. (tablets, smartphones and automotive? come in mind today)

            As for the TV streaming apps, they are absolutely the future. Hdmi in solutions like on the xbox one are just temporary until the content providers realize we are in the 21st century (the seem to start waking up but kicking and screaming).

            I just can’t help to wonder what would have been the Xbox one like if MS decided to run standard windows 8.1 (with a tv app) on the Hyper-v next to the Xbox gaming OS instead of a heavily customized version of windows.
            For one thing, the long merge process of the client operating systems would have been shorter and easier.
            Microsoft could have made this OS trio available maybe on PCs like surface also revitalizing PC gaming and making it a serious player in the portable console market essentially.
            The TV app would have outlived its usefulness once content came only from the dedicated apps of Comcast and the like at which point people would have been already familiar in using multiple apps for content. Even now a TV app would have been just one of the apps for content.
            Smartglass would work also with PCs allowing the PC streaming apps similar functionality to the current Xbox ones. It could have been even extended to permit Powerpoint presentation control build in (not various add-ons that are currently needed) and also realizing maybe the vision of Smart Displays and Windows Sideshow (Media Center gadget running in Windows Mobile Sideshow app wasn’t far from Smartglass).

            (Just to show that MS had the right ideas for a long time, they have just been reinvented maybe too many times).

  6. Info Dave says:

    “Beta 2 is more fair.”


  7. Mike Colon says:

    Hi Hal. I’ve experienced a lot of the frustrations that you’ve had with the Xbox One. One thing that did seem to help me is to turn up my entertainment center speakers very loud while performing the Kinect tuning in Settings. After that, it seemed to do much better with the voice recognition. Also, I’ve inserted an HDMI splitter so I can have me Satellite output to both my receiver and the Xbox. That way, I can use the Xbox with voice control for watching TV, but others in the household can just use the normal remotes/TV/Receiver settings without the Xbox in the loop. Of course, this shouldn’t be necessary. Like others, I’m looking forward to improvements to the system in the future.

  8. Geoff Coupe says:

    I’m still perfectly happy with Windows Media Center running on Windows 7. I’ve been looking at alternatives, but have yet to find one… If I want to play a game, I’ll do that on my PC.

  9. Who would pay $500 (plus taxes) for an NSA spyware on your living room?

  10. Juan Rhodes says:

    I don’t feel it’s a fail, just not complete. Once the kinks are worked out, I think it will be amazing. As is currently typical of Microsoft products, it’s a combination of messaging, and lack of focus.

    To reset the XBOX, just hold your finger on the Xbox button for 10 seconds, and it’ll go off completely. Power on will be a fresh boot. There’s no documentation or tutorial to this effect. You’re left unplugging it or using the Internet to figure this out. (you can also set the power setting to energy save, then turn off from within the settings app)

    I doubt the lack of DLNA is permanent. I’m guessing that it was a time/resources thing to meet launch. FWIW, with a Windows 8/8.1 computer, you can use the “Play to” charm using Xbox Music / Video from the PC. The PS4 also lacks DLNA for now. Pictures can be viewed from SkyDrive, and is actually pretty cool. It’s voice enabled, and has intelligent zoom.

    I do wish that there were a OneGude smartglass companion, would make the TV experience so much better.

    A power indicator for the controllers would be nice. My Kinect likes to identify people that aren’t in the house, let alone in the room. If one of those people is a child account, then it now shuts down what ever you were doing to match that invisible child’s parental settings. “Xbox, On” may as well be a honey-do command. Get’s ignored. “Xbox, turn off” is much more reliable… It also seems to prefer my girlfriend’s voice to mine. I understand, and respect that.

    I’ve had the same frustrations with the stunted TV watching experience, but don’t see the need for the splitter. I actually use my Harmony smart hub less with the Xbox One in place. It will turn on the receiver and TV, then also turn everything off. Having the Kinect voice commands available is helpful for when the Xfinity remote is across the room. We have the option of using either. My girlfriend has also grown used to it. Since the Xbox is on, if she wants to play Peggle it’s instantly accessible. She’d never actually turn on the 360, or the PS4 to play a game. Once the TV app is in full screen, you can basically ignore the Xbox until needed by using the TV remote. Yes, the power use can be an issue, but while with the TV app in use, the system uses <100W.

    I also loved the ability to watch the Bears game full screen, realize they're getting smashed, snap the TV window to the side and fire up Madden. Once the game became unbearable (ha), sent Madden full screen, all using my voice.

    I also think the media purchasing options are problematic. For instance, you can't purchase a video for a child and assign it to their account. The purchasing account is the only one that can use the content, but child accounts can't purchase the content. I had to use the 360 to purchase a video for him, adding my card to his account for the transaction. Cumbersome. Stupid.

    I'm hoping that upcoming software updates will resolve many of these issues. The PS4 also has it's issues, but has the advantage of being more of a focused gaming system. The pain of being an early adopter is more acute with these two systems than it has been in the past.

  11. Gabe says:

    It’s certainly not a complete story and we’re definitely still on the journey, but do want to point out that you can use your PC or tablet with nearly all apps that play music, videos and photos (including the Metro style browser) and stream to Xbox 360 and Xbox One from the Devices charm. I’m not claiming any refuge here, and have heard the feedback loud-and-clear about a desire for an Xbox 360-style DLNA media player, but you might find some value in this (I use it all the time, and my wife seems to have figured it out as I was stuck watching a long series of wedding videos streamed to Xbox One from Vimeo the other night). It works with HTML5 audio, video, img and also Flash audio and video. There are some gotchas with Flash related to how a site handles ad-insertion, but otherwise it’s pretty solid. There are a few known issues (that will be temporary), e.g. a Surface 2 specific issue causes re-buffering for HD Flash content from the browser when streaming to Xbox, or a pre-rolled Flash ad that causes disconnect (just re-establish the session). Fixes are in the pipeline. The built-in Photos app doesn’t implement the contract (yet), but overall you should see most apps using it. You can party with the WinRT contract and do some pretty cool stuff. Some resources:
    1. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2871501 (Some devices aren’t so good though)
    2. http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/site/search?query=playto&f%5B0%5D.Value=playto&f%5B0%5D.Type=SearchText&ac=4
    3. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh465184.aspx
    4. http://video.ch9.ms/sessions/build/2013/2-087.pptx (slides 35, 43-49)

    Anyhow, hope it helps in some way. I always appreciate constructive feedback 🙂
    – g

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  13. eric greenwood says:

    Its a fucking gaming counsol u idiot. If ur a gamer then u have a right to say anything. Xbox one has taken my breath away with its graphics and gameplay. I understand its supposed to also to act as a media player vut come on now. U cant just judge it upon ur “wife’s tv experience” . It is an amazing gaming experience .. pardon my lazy typing

    • halberenson says:

      Microsoft has made a big deal about its home entertainment capabilities and wants it to be the center of the living room. If they are going to market it that way then it makes sense to use and review it that way. And all those investments in putting OneGuide, OneDrive, Xbox Video, Xbox Music, Skype, etc. on the Xbox One are about gaming? Right.

      If Xbox One is really treated as just a gaming console than I agree with all those who think Microsoft should sell off the business. Microsoft has no strategic need to be in the pure gaming console business. It is a niche and a not very profitable one. And the threat from Sony expanding from gaming into control of the living room and beyond, which is what drove Microsoft into the business in the first place, no longer exists. Because to Sony PS/4 is indeed just a gaming console and they have no longer have the ability to spread console success into other computing realms. Not to mention console-based gaming is in decline, if not a death spiral.

  14. j says:

    No Media Center extender, over graphics processing than PS4…

    …As much a I COMPLETELY hate the thought, if they don’t at least return the extender…

    Then not only will I be purchasing Titanfall for the 360, but in a few months, I’ll get a PS4 (want to be more certain about the extender issue, and Microsoft’s absolute disregard to its current Loyal 360 consumer base)

    • halberenson says:

      The extender issue is weird because Media Center itself is deprecated, but I agree the lack of one ruins scenarios that many (?) 360 users depend on.

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