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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