Six months after launch, some promised Xbox One features are still MIA

On November 22nd, Microsoft launched the Xbox One game console in 13 markets around the world. Last week, the company stated it has sold over 5 million units to retailers since the launch. While some pundits have questioned how effective the release of the console has been compared to Sony's PlayStation 4 launch, there's no doubt that the Xbox One, at least so far, has sold more units than Microsoft's previous Xbox 360 in the same time period.

However, six months after its release, there are quite a few features that Microsoft has previously promised would be offered to Xbox One owners that have not yet been added to the console. Let's go over some of them right now.

No snapping of Skype video calls while playing Xbox One games

This is a feature that was shown off as a live demo during the first Xbox One press event in May. Microsoft was going to let folks play a game, then receive a video call from a friend via Skype which could be activated via Snap mode so that the person could have a chat while still playing.

Unfortunately, just before the Xbox One's November launch, the Skype team admitted that snap video feature would not be included while playing games. The team didn't give a reason and even though the Skype Xbox One app has received a couple of feature updates since its launch, Microsoft has been completely silent about when, or even if, it will even be added. 

No external hard drive support

Unlike the PS4, which allows owners to replace its included 500GB hard drive with SSD drives or larger storage options, Microsoft's 500GB drive inside the Xbox One is not designed to be upgraded in that way. While the company did say that the Xbox One's USB ports would support external hard drives for more storage at first, it later admitted that feature would not make it for the launch of the console.

Since November, Microsoft has put in a way to view how much free storage space is left on the Xbox One, so that's something. However, the company still hasn't given a specific date for when owners will be able to hook up a USB hard drive on the console. Hopefully we won't have to wait much longer.

No way to turn the retail Xbox One into a game development kit

In July, Microsoft surprised many in the game industry when it announced that it would allow any Xbox One console to be used as a game development hardware kit. This would give anyone a chance to make and publish a game for the console. Since then, Microsoft has announced the ID@Xbox program, which gives established independent game developers a way to self-publish their titles on the Xbox One.

However, Microsoft has yet to offer any updates on when it will offer the tools to turn any Xbox One unit into a game development console. In December, word got out on the Internet on a way to make this happen in a very unofficial way, so we know it's possible. Unfortunately we will still have to wait for Microsoft to offer its official tools before the console can be opened up to anyone with a cool idea for making a game.

No Windows 8 app publishing support

At both BUILD 2013 and  BUILD 2014 earlier this month, Microsoft said that apps made for the Modern UI of Windows 8 could be ported to work on the Xbox One. However, the company has stopped short of offering any information on how it will allow developers to actually publish those apps to the console, alongside their Windows 8 and Windows Phone counterparts.

A few weeks ago, an independent developer claimed that he got permission from Microsoft to port the Plex Windows 8 app to the Xbox One as part of the ID@Xbox program, which was originally announced as being for games only. So far, Microsoft has not confirmed or denied that it will be the way to let app makers publish their software on the Xbox One. Hopefully, the company will offer some clarification on this subject in the near future.

No Xbox One controller support for the PC

Technically, this is a promise that was made to PC gamers, but we imagine that a lot of Xbox One owners also own desktop or notebook computers and would love to be able to play games using their controller. In August, Microsoft said that PC driver support for the Xbox One would be launched sometime in 2014.

Since then, a third party has come up with a way to enable PC support for the controller with a combination of drivers, emulators and custom applications. Needless to say, it's not the ideal solution. Later, Microsoft's director of product management Albert Penello reiterated that the PC controller support is still coming "this year" and when it is released he will explain why it took so long to develop.

Conclusion ... and hope

The good thing about the Xbox One is that Microsoft seems determined to offer a steady stream of software updates that have added a number of promised features already, such as the previously mentioned storage management interface, along with support for older Xbox 360 headsets and USB keyboards, a way to stream live gameplay and much more.

Hopefully, new Xbox leader Phil Spencer will continue to push the team to get these and more promised features in Xbox One updates in the very near future. Of course, Microsoft might also have some upcoming features they plan to put in that have yet to be announced that should stand out as well. 

The truth is that if you bought an Xbox 360 when it first launched in 2005, it is capable of a lot more now, via system updates, than it was over eight years ago. We think that will certainly be true of the Xbox One as well. We just hope that the company actually delivers on its previous promises for the console ASAP.

Images via Microsoft

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48 Comments

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Daniel F. said,
I'd just like to see the oneguide for UK users....

I already have it on my uk Xbox one. Controls my sky hd box well

-T- said,

I already have it on my uk Xbox one. Controls my sky hd box well

Oh cool there is hope yet then, when did you get that? My oneguide is still blank...

It arrived this month, I went into the TV settings and there was an option to set the OneGuide region. I got it with a preview release early in the month and it's still there in the official update

You forgot how HBO Go was announced as part of the "first wave" of entertainment apps for the Xbox One. Nearly half a year later and it's still nowhere to be found.

I'm no math expert, but I'm pretty sure it has only been 5 months from the launch of the console. Granted, these will probably still be missing at the 6 month mark.

You're right, not sure how they missed that - Dec 22nd would've been 1 month, Jan 2, Feb 3, March 4 and now April would be 5 months.

Anyway, while a lot of these features would be nice to have on there, it's not exactly game breaking features. The thing I wanted most from my PS4 was instant on/game resume and that's still not there...sure it's annoying but I know this stuff is coming.

Think about where the X360 and PS3 were even a year after they launched and you can see that these new ones are already off to a good start. That being said, would love to see these sooner rather than later.

I wouldn't be surprised if microsoft never enables USB harddrives and instead makes people buy the next revision of the console hardware to get more space with the included non-replaceable 1TB HDD.

I must each to his own. Some of these items are not even on my radar. Don't care about snapping Skype, but do care about the external storage. I can understand why some people want this though. I understand some of the complaints about 360 having more features.

But, what really has me at a loss is the treatment of digital. This was going to be the media hub. Going digital was the next big thing the X1 was designed for. But since they "tossed out the baby with the bath water" with the backtracking on the 24hr DRM test by removing family/friend sharing it has been a complete failure to make people realize how advantageous it would be to go all digital. I am too starting to wonder what advantages getting all digital has. Even after "gung-ho" initial attitude.

Here is just smidgen of my complaints on this digital front. My top 10:
1. Bring back the friend share plan for just digital purchased games. If you want to buy the disc you don't get this option to share. This is how it should have been after the backtrack fiasco. It is pitiful that Steam's share option is better then X1. Are you listening Microsoft!
2. Sale. Why would anyone buy digital if the disc version is on sale but not the digital version. See items 3 and 5.
3. Digital version should be cheaper on day one of a release. Even if only few dollars it should reflect that there are no material or distribution costs.
4. Let just say it, the Microsoft store from the Xbox One is horrible. If you don't know what you are looking for you will never find it.
5. From the Microsoft web store make it easier for another person to purchase a digital version of a game for someone else. I mean come on how hard is it to make descent store. My girlfriend or parents or someone not familiar with the store should easily be able to do this without being in tears from frustration.
6. Sales! I know the box is new but pushing items for great deals will make people buy something they never thought they wanted. Impulse buys. If NFL 2014 (now that season is over) goes on a digital sale for $30. I buy it and I don't even like to play the sport games (except FIFA). I have heard they are going to be doing this more but sooner, then later. Take Steam as an example of how to initiate digital sales.
7. Make easy to purchase a download code from additional places (like Amazon, Gamestop).
8. I have seen some people want a way to sell digital games. I guess that is OK. Not on my need now radar but, if you are going to go digital (as Microsoft original touted) then some online second part exchange should be available in the future.
9. With Microsoft pushing services (Music, Video, XboxLive). You would think they would have some kind of deal buy all 3 for 30% or buy both Music and Video for a year get XboxLive for a year. Microsoft ever hear of bundling? It is like you trying not get to as many people as possible to try your additional services. For example: Did I need a land line? NO! But, with my cable and internet bundle it actually cost less for all three then just the two.
10. Speaking of digital content. Perhaps allow for better management of streaming from our own libraries to, this so called "media hub". Right now it is complete pain to do anything like this. I should be able to easily attach to other media devices (my desktop, laptop, etc...). Not Miracast or Play To (nice features but require you to initiate from another device).

I have plenty more on this subject but alas no more time for my tirade.

Oh, yeah one non digital item. Pins. This one bugs me almost more then anything. How hard is to allow user to EASILY organize this area. Let us order this area in way we want the pins to be placed. I know, petty, but it really bothers me.


Edited by pjosephson, Apr 23 2014, 6:33pm :

Oh I forgot this one, Now my top 10 is top 11.

11. Preordering. Give the same benefits to preordering as you get from preordering a disc. Why would I buy digital if you can preorder a disc and get bonus DLC and other perks but not if you by digital. Why is digital a second class citizen? If you want the push to digital to work you do not make us sit in the back of the bus.
I suspect many of my points on the top 10. I mean top 11 list are being worked on. The problem is as this was going to be the digital hub for the house they should have been there from the beginning.

Maybe Microsoft should make me "Digital Media Czar" I would gladly YELL at them on an official basis. :)

I agree with you on a lot of those features. But keep in mind MS for now at least wants to keep the retail friendly. This unfortunately mean that digital prices wont come down fast (which I admit, I would like to as well). From my friend at MS, I also hear worrying thoughts about the rapidly dropping value of the games market and them not wanting to contribute to it. They still want more control over what's released on their network to make it a more premium experience than what's offered on the shovelware piling competitors.
I guess most of those features will make it to Xbox Live within the next year or two, but changing their DRM setup already put them behind shedule a lot. From what I hear is that most of the network setup was rewritten in the period between E3 and launch of last year and it's the reason why so many things you'd expect from a digital pushing network are still missing. I hope they can push those features to the consumer faster and faster.

Of course I agree with protecting the retail. But, I think several of my points take care of that by allowing digital downloads at other retail stores to be on equal footing. Codes to get digital should be easy as it is to get them for PC's at stores like Amazon or Gamestop either online or brick or mortar. If I am at my local game store and can get a digital for the same sale price knowing that I can share it with my Friends plan over a disc version, I guarantee most people are getting the digital (win for customer, win for retailer). But, that option does not exist at all. Preordering a no brainer, does not exist. Preloading (I think is coming, I know it is for PS4) is a must. These make digital win. But, Microsoft treating digital as the discs ugly cousin at the ball is not helping.

Microsoft does this all the time. Where they hold back, not wanting to rock the boat (too much). I call "I want to be liked" principle. Then another company makes the very same changes/advancements with a new or existing competing product. Sweeping into to do what Microsoft had the power to do and should have done. Now Microsoft must play catch-up.

A further problem is people will not become accustomed to buying digital via X1. It is also longer process to convert those accustoming purchasing disc versions on the 360. Not too mention or video, or music all in a strong competing landscape with Microsoft seeking (I hope Microsoft still wants) to have the X1 as the media hub, it is imperative that they take steps. Without the incentives now, early on, it will become harder to what is needed to be done. Then the alternative options come to play (Amazon, possibly Google, and Stream, not to mention PS4 and Wii) all willing to make digital the mainstay with their own future products.

Microsoft is always going to piss off somebody, no matter what they do. The question is what the future holds. Is it going to be digital or is it going to be some disc based form.

I think we see many of these steps on digital being taken on other Window systems but less so on the X1 (at least from the knowledge I see coming from insiders).

Edited by pjosephson, Apr 23 2014, 9:13pm :

*slow clap*

Great list, despite some issues I might see with them doing a couple of those. It's nice to see true criticism without the love/hate, keeping it strictly business as a consumer/gamer. Bravo, kind sir! (Y)

pjosephson said,
I must each to his own. Some of these items are not even on my radar. Don't care about snapping Skype, but do care about the external storage. I can understand why some people want this though. I understand some of the complaints about 360 having more features.

But, what really has me at a loss is the treatment of digital. This was going to be the media hub. Going digital was the next big thing the X1 was designed for. But since they "tossed out the baby with the bath water" with the backtracking on the 24hr DRM test by removing family/friend sharing it has been a complete failure to make people realize how advantageous it would be to go all digital. I am too starting to wonder what advantages getting all digital has. Even after "gung-ho" initial attitude.

Here is just smidgen of my complaints on this digital front. My top 10:
1. Bring back the friend share plan for just digital purchased games. If you want to buy the disc you don't get this option to share. This is how it should have been after the backtrack fiasco. It is pitiful that Steam's share option is better then X1. Are you listening Microsoft!
2. Sale. Why would anyone buy digital if the disc version is on sale but not the digital version. See items 3 and 5.
3. Digital version should be cheaper on day one of a release. Even if only few dollars it should reflect that there are no material or distribution costs.
4. Let just say it, the Microsoft store from the Xbox One is horrible. If you don't know what you are looking for you will never find it.
5. From the Microsoft web store make it easier for another person to purchase a digital version of a game for someone else. I mean come on how hard is it to make descent store. My girlfriend or parents or someone not familiar with the store should easily be able to do this without being in tears from frustration.
6. Sales! I know the box is new but pushing items for great deals will make people buy something they never thought they wanted. Impulse buys. If NFL 2014 (now that season is over) goes on a digital sale for $30. I buy it and I don't even like to play the sport games (except FIFA). I have heard they are going to be doing this more but sooner, then later. Take Steam as an example of how to initiate digital sales.
7. Make easy to purchase a download code from additional places (like Amazon, Gamestop).
8. I have seen some people want a way to sell digital games. I guess that is OK. Not on my need now radar but, if you are going to go digital (as Microsoft original touted) then some online second part exchange should be available in the future.
9. With Microsoft pushing services (Music, Video, XboxLive). You would think they would have some kind of deal buy all 3 for 30% or buy both Music and Video for a year get XboxLive for a year. Microsoft ever hear of bundling? It is like you trying not get to as many people as possible to try your additional services. For example: Did I need a land line? NO! But, with my cable and internet bundle it actually cost less for all three then just the two.
10. Speaking of digital content. Perhaps allow for better management of streaming from our own libraries to, this so called "media hub". Right now it is complete pain to do anything like this. I should be able to easily attach to other media devices (my desktop, laptop, etc...). Not Miracast or Play To (nice features but require you to initiate from another device).

I have plenty more on this subject but alas no more time for my tirade.

Oh, yeah one non digital item. Pins. This one bugs me almost more then anything. How hard is to allow user to EASILY organize this area. Let us order this area in way we want the pins to be placed. I know, petty, but it really bothers me.


This is a great list. And all of it is true and honest. It kinda baffles me, that a company like Microsoft makes (or doesn't make) moves. I've never seen a company that could be so far ahead of the field compared to it's competitors (not just gaming either) and just get passed by with ease, because they chose not to move on it.

This list should be all over Twitter, all in Phil Spencer and company's face.

I want to buy an Xbox One (currently have a PS3) but I use the media features a lot and it is very disappointing the One does not support what the PS3 (and 360) have been able to do for years :(

I love my 360 and my Xbox One. However, it completely baffles me how a "next gen" system could be released with LESS base features than it's predecessor.

The feature set of the 360 should have been the starting point of the R&D for the X1, not it's apparent goal through updates.

True, though lets not forget that the Xbox One was rushed to market to come out at a similar time to the PS4. Additionally it also had at least a few months of setbacks when they had to do their 180 to appease the DRM naysayers.

If the information was put out to the public in any way, it's the definition of false advertising. If not, it's still not good, but forgivable.

I guess I should sue Nintendo for telling me back in the 90s that the Nintendo 64 would have dinosaurs that looked as good as the ones in Jurassic Park.

I hope MS takes more responsibility than childishly pointing fingers at other companies mistakes. So by your logic, this is OK because somewhere in history other companies lie too. You have to do a little better than that.

Hahaiah said,
I hope MS takes more responsibility than childishly pointing fingers at other companies mistakes. So by your logic, this is OK because somewhere in history other companies lie too. You have to do a little better than that.

Nothing was ever handed out in a signed agreement. You were well aware and MS made it abundantly clear what the XB1 was capable of at launch. No one has been ripped off here so quit playing hard done by.

They said no such thing during Build 2013. It was mistakenly hinted at during one of the demos, indirectly by showing the "same" APIs having both Windows and Xbox versions (was noticeable through the namespaces that preceded those APIs.). During this year's Build, they only said that the goal one day is to allow the deployment of WinRT apps on XO consoles. However, they didn't announce their plans for that, and it remains to be seen when it would officially be announced.

I talked with a MS guy few months ago (before Build 2014), and he said that while he can't talk officially about such things, one of the issues that they have now is the fact that the Windows version in XO is a bit behind both the official 8.1 and the next one they currently have in development. Their long terms plans, according to him, are to deliver the same WinRT development experience across all of their platforms, which would require bringing the version of Windows in XO up to the same level as the one being released as part of their regular Windows releases.

Thus, my guess would be that this would happen for the next major release of Windows, when (according to the things we've been hearing during Build) would bring an absolute platform convergence of WinRT (across WP, Win, and XO).

Including "No Windows 8 app publishing support" in the list is just Callaham clutching at straws trying to fill out the article. It's not been six months since Build, and moreover they made it very clear during the Khan Academy app demo that they were talking about the future roadmap for XBox but there was no indication about any ETA. No release promises made, no delays, no dates missed, but Callaham has no hesitation lumping it together with the other features mentioned. Shameless, and of course more the trollery and controversy in the article more the comments and thus more the author gets paid.

I think if the hardware could support snapped Skype video chat with a game running at the same time and no loss of frame rate we'd have seen this feature by now. About the external media support, you're right. I hope they implement it properly because I really want it ASAP.

Me 2. Snapping Skype is definitely possible, other apps already snap video next to games running. I'm not surprised Skype is taking longer as they are generally slow with their client support on new platforms, even after MS' acquisition.

The unofficial way to turn your Xbox One into a development kit was a trick/hoax. All it did was brick peoples consoles. I wouldn't use that as confirmation that it is possible.

GotBored said,
The unofficial way to turn your Xbox One into a development kit was a trick/hoax. All it did was brick peoples consoles. I wouldn't use that as confirmation that it is possible.

Yes, by going into the official devkit menu, and entering in a sandbox id that the console couldn't connect to, causing a boot loop. Proving there is a way, just that the account using the console wasn't provisioned to use that sandbox...

Xerax said,

Yes, by going into the official devkit menu, and entering in a sandbox id that the console couldn't connect to, causing a boot loop. Proving there is a way, just that the account using the console wasn't provisioned to use that sandbox...


There's no saying that the secret menu was ever designed for home users at all. Much cheaper for MS to produce one set of devices for both developers and retail markers (the 360 models for developers and retail were very different, likewise for every previous game console) and have a very similar firmware for both.

n_K said,

There's no saying that the secret menu was ever designed for home users at all. Much cheaper for MS to produce one set of devices for both developers and retail markers (the 360 models for developers and retail were very different, likewise for every previous game console) and have a very similar firmware for both.

Apart from the official SDK documentation, and the fact that they have said as part of ID@Xbox that it will be happening. But other than that, no, you're right.

Mathachew said,
I'd like expanded DLNA support, or even equal to what the 360 was capable of. The Play To option sucks.

The Number ONE reason why my 360 still gets more hours of use.

I am surprised people use DLNA. ITs basically useless because of devices lack of playing things like MKV files, DTS decoding, proper subtitle support, chapter support... ect, ect.

necrosis, i think you should revisit the capabilities of DLNA.
those examples you have listed comprise client functionality and as such are supported - the WD Live is a good example of a client doing all this and more.

necrosis said,
I am surprised people use DLNA. ITs basically useless because of devices lack of playing things like MKV files, DTS decoding, proper subtitle support, chapter support... ect, ect.

Huh? My TV uses DLNA to pull from my media server, and all my files are MKV format and have subtitles. Dunno about DTS and Chapter support though.

Mathachew said,
I'd like expanded DLNA support, or even equal to what the 360 was capable of. The Play To option sucks.

Totally agreed. I still have my 360 plugged in through my One, for just this reason.

necrosis said,
I am surprised people use DLNA. ITs basically useless because of devices lack of playing things like MKV files, DTS decoding, proper subtitle support, chapter support... ect, ect.

Any modern TV should handle H264 (x264) content no problems. My LG is nearly 3 years old and DLNA works great. I use my Samsung BD-Player for content with DTS audio (however I have heard the newer TVs can decode DTS).

necrosis said,
I am surprised people use DLNA. ITs basically useless because of devices lack of playing things like MKV files, DTS decoding, proper subtitle support, chapter support... ect, ect.

Weird because I use DLNA and all of those things work.