Microsoft confirms no voice-chat between Xbox One and 360

Details continue to emerge on the Xbox One, following yesterday’s news that the new console will be able to function without Kinect attached, a change in direction from Microsoft's earlier policy.

A bit more info has now bubbled forth, this time about communicating with friends on other consoles. Chief Xbox One platform architect, Marc Whitten, told IGN – as part of an ongoing ‘Ask Microsoft Anything’ panel – that, even though friends will be able to see each other’s presence on Xbox Live, voice chat won’t be supported between the Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles:

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?
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.”

The “sound quality” aspect that Whitten mentions refers to the improvements that Microsoft has made in improving audio chat on the Xbox One. Whereas the Xbox 360 headset worked with 16kHz downstream / 8kHz upstream at 14-bit compressed, the Xbox One’s headset (which will be included in the box with the console) streams 24kHz audio at 16-bit resolution uncompressed, both upstream and downstream.

Incidentally, as TechRadar mentions, Sony won't have any problems with cross-console chat between the PlayStation 4 and its PS3 predecessor. According to the big cheese at Sony UK, Fergal Gara, when asked about chat between the two consoles, he simply replied: "It's there." 

Source: IGN | Images via Microsoft

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I'm not sold on any technical arguments, a compatibility mode can't be that hard for the worlds best software engineers. Also who actually gives a damn about the quality of voip?Speed and reliability are much bigger factors. For some reason those aren't being addressed (P2P is terrible for many to many VOIP, particularly in fast paced games).

At the end of the day it's a business decision. You're more likely to upgrade if you are prohibited from speaking with your friends until you do.

Dumb decision by Microsoft, not a good look. Dumb in the literal sense of the word too.

Microsoft own Skype, which supports voice AND video chat across a multitude of devices and platforms including Android, iOS, OSX and all versions of Windows. So what's so hard about chatting on an Xbox??? Just require some sort of software update on the Xbox 360 so that it can connect to the Skype network.

Well the way I see it is this...

The two Xboxes aren't going to be compatible for cross platform games anyway, and honestly how many people use their Xbox purely to voice communicate with friends? Not many at all I'd wager, as such I don't see the effort involved in bridging the two systems as worth the time and resources.

Also, my memory is hazy from back then, but didn't the exact same thing happen when the 360 was released?

It's actually a bigger issue than most of you think, a lot of people party chat with friends while they play other games and it's pretty lame they wont support that.

Microsoft is gonna release a console call Xbox 720 since they have changes so much to the console since unveil that practically every feature they announce is now either exist or holding back to the future. The one version is trying too hard to satisfy everyone maybe it's call ONE! So a Xbox 720 will make sense to end the controversy.

This is a given, no cross-chat because the X1 quality is much higher. Would create a big development overhead.

What this makes me think is that the PS4 isn't even upgrading the voice codecs on their system which would be lammmeeeee.

So no private chats or parties between XB1 and 360 users? Seems pretty lame.
I have an XB1 on pre-order and I am really considering cancelling it.
I mean this is stupid. Right now the 360 is the most widely use console in the US. Not being able to talk to all my friends who may not get Xb1 right away or at all is simply stupid.

They have to do a 180 on this move!

This is one I can say I'm not really surprised at.
We already knew the Xbone wasn't backwards compatible so what would be the point of voice chat with the previous generation?

They've probably just thought it isn't worth the investment or development time to support it.
I'm sure if Xbox One was backwards compatible then it would definitely be in there.

Spicoli said,
Okay, what exactly is the reason to not support it? Using compressed audio certainty wouldn't prevent it as all kinds of chat servers use it.
My best guess would be that the Xbox 360 used the old Messenger voice system, which was/is being retired in favor of Skype.

Bad Man Duke said,
My best guess would be that the Xbox 360 used the old Messenger voice system, which was/is being retired in favor of Skype.

You just use a gateway to connect the two. I could write one pretty easily.

Spicoli said,

You just use a gateway to connect the two. I could write one pretty easily.

I don't disagree. I don't think it would be worth the trouble overall since the 360 will eventually be retired. It only talks to GFWL users right now anyway, so there is really no need to push further since the newer system is much more scalable.

Bad Man Duke said,
I don't disagree. I don't think it would be worth the trouble overall since the 360 will eventually be retired. It only talks to GFWL users right now anyway, so there is really no need to push further since the newer system is much more scalable.

Every 360 owner will buy an Xbox One at launch?

The 360 won't be going anywhere for at least another 3 years...

LogicalApex said,

Every 360 owner will buy an Xbox One at launch?

The 360 won't be going anywhere for at least another 3 years...

I didn't say they would. I merely was referring to how scalable the Skype based communications is vs. the current Live chat features.

Spicoli said,
You just use a gateway to connect the two. I could write one pretty easily.

I'm sure that is an option, but it's clear that Microsoft has no intention of maintaining the Messenger infrastructure going forward. They already ripped the Messenger app out of Windows 8.1. It's a shame because it works a lot better than Skype does now, but it is what it is and I have no expectations of seeing Messenger supported in anything from now on.

Spicoli said,

You just use a gateway to connect the two. I could write one pretty easily.


It's not the gateway thats the problem its the jump in quality. Where would the compression lie to allow the 360 to hear X1 voices? That's a resource heavy task to run a resource specific console. See where the problem lies?

To me, this just makes me wonder around the PS4's chat systems. Will they even upgrade the codec?

JonnyLH said,

It's not the gateway thats the problem its the jump in quality. Where would the compression lie to allow the 360 to hear X1 voices? That's a resource heavy task to run a resource specific console. See where the problem lies?

To me, this just makes me wonder around the PS4's chat systems. Will they even upgrade the codec?

That's the exact job that gateway would solve. Its whole purpose would be to translate XBOX One audio to a format compatible with the 360 and vice versa. With transcoding that isn't all that hard to do.

Microsoft just has not interest in doing it. Which is a shame since Xbox Live players already give them so much money you think that would motivate them some.

LogicalApex said,

That's the exact job that gateway would solve. Its whole purpose would be to translate XBOX One audio to a format compatible with the 360 and vice versa. With transcoding that isn't all that hard to do.

Microsoft just has not interest in doing it. Which is a shame since Xbox Live players already give them so much money you think that would motivate them some.


The only problem is, party chat is P2P so transcoding would have to use local resources. I totally get why they haven't done it.

Oh dear. It's telling how Sony are looking like the good guys here with all these XBox changes and 180's I understand the need to move on, but you can still install legacy apps on Windows 8 why not some sort of support for cross voice chats?

tl;dr - Microsoft continue to shoot themselves in the foot over this.

Less spam right away is a big boon for users. I'm pretty sure a lot of people are looking forward to this. The early adopters are probably less likely to be profane and say rude things.

I doubt this is going to be a big deal for very many people. There aren't very many instances I can think of where this would actually be useful.

Neobond said,
Oh dear. It's telling how Sony are looking like the good guys here with all these XBox changes and 180's I understand the need to move on, but you can still install legacy apps on Windows 8 why not some sort of support for cross voice chats?

tl;dr - Microsoft continue to shoot themselves in the foot over this.

But you can't do the same for the Xbox 360 due to the chat protocol being integrated with the main system. Hence you can't upgrade it without a major release or system re-architecture. Since the Xbox 360's isn't really designed to support a separate app running while you game, it simply wouldn't work (or work well enough).

If anything this highlights why the XB1's architecture is so much better since pieces like this are modular and much easier to update/upgrade.

Sony says "It's there", but IIRC the PS3 doesn't have cross-game or party chat. So communicating with the PS4 sounds like it would be a very limited experience.

spenser.d said,
I doubt this is going to be a big deal for very many people. There aren't very many instances I can think of where this would actually be useful.

That's not his point though. While I like the fact that Microsoft is listening to their fans, it's somewhat disheartening that Microsoft isn't leading the way on a lot of these things, opting only to change their mind when we're loud enough.

If the shoe was on the foot, with Microsoft and Sony swapping places, everyone would be claiming that Sony is "scared". (just as they did whenever the rumor of 4GB GDDR5 turned out to be 8GB)

spenser.d said,
I doubt this is going to be a big deal for very many people. There aren't very many instances I can think of where this would actually be useful.

Maybe for keeping in touch with friends who arent affluent enough to shuck out $500 on launch day? FAIL. There is NOTHING stopping Microsoft engineers from solving a simple technical issue and allowing chat between the consoles...except for the geniuses in charge of Marketing.

John Nemesh said,

Maybe for keeping in touch with friends who arent affluent enough to shuck out $500 on launch day? FAIL. There is NOTHING stopping Microsoft engineers from solving a simple technical issue and allowing chat between the consoles...except for the geniuses in charge of Marketing.

You could use a phone, facebook, skype, Xbox messaging, or any number of other things. Why do you need Xbox One to Xbox 360 voice communication to keep in touch?

Was to be expected. But there might still be an implementation of that voice codec for the Xbox 360 at some point with a dashboard update (or Skype app).

Nooooo it says its because of the higher quality chat on the new Xbox. It is known that the 360 audio quality is mediocre at best and can seriously be improved. With that said the only way to enable cross chat would be to take the higher quality audio from the Xbox One and downgrade it to the audio quality of the 360. That would take quite a bit of backend software to do this especially when you have a mix of 360 and Xbox One users all chatting at once.

Exactly. I remember when WebTV users started showing up in the chat rooms back in the 90s. Before that, you could have a decent conversation and potentially have intellectual discourse, but once they got in so came the idiots. While I know we can't go back to the days of the internet being for "the smart, educated civilized people" only, we can hope some of the rude and childish people get left behind.