As Xbox One turns 1, Microsoft touts hundreds of added features

The console has received lots of new features since it debuted almost a year ago. But have those updates helped boost sales?

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Microsoft's Xbox One launched in major markets on November 22, 2013. Sarah Tew/CNET

The Xbox One gaming console has had a busy year with a host of new updates delivered each month, Microsoft touted in a new blog posted Wednesday.

The console is approaching its one-year anniversary as it launched in major markets on November 22 of last year. To keep Xbox One owners happy and attract potential new buyers, Microsoft has made a concerted effort to update the console on a monthly basis. Some of the updates have fallen into the bug-fix category, but most have been designed to add new features or enhance existing ones.

Microsoft said it was committed to updating the Xbox One on a regular basis, especially by listening to feedback and requests from owners of the console.

"When Xbox One launched, we said we were deeply committed to our fans and our ongoing service updates have delivered hundreds of new features throughout the year," Microsoft wrote in its blog. "In fact, we launched a new website, Xbox Feedback, to enable us to hear from you directly and let you vote for your favorite ideas. We received thousands of new feature recommendations and more than three quarters of a million votes this past year, and your feedback played a huge role in shaping new experiences on Xbox One."

In the blog post, Microsoft took us on a memory-lane tour of some of the most popular updates rolled out this year.

Customization was one hot category as Microsoft added the ability to create your own customized backgrounds on your Xbox One. In a nod to the console's social skills, Microsoft also noted the new Friends section that lets you and your friends see each other's current activities and favorite games.

The ability to remotely buy games and add-ons via the Xbox SmartGlass app was another new feature added this year. You can buy content through the app, and your console can automatically start downloading the item. Another update from this year displays a battery power indicator so you can see how much power is available in your controller.

Another update brought with it a silent reboot feature that removed the need for you to power up the console after an updated has installed. And when you save a game, a progress bar shows you the status of the save. You can also tell which games and apps have been updated.

Xbox One owners who like to use the console to watch TV also received several updates this year. A Boot to TV option automatically brings up the television when the console comes out of standby mode. A new Media Player app was added in order to support streaming of music, photos and movies stored on DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance)-compatible devices. And the Xbox One Digital TV tuner lets you more easily watch TV on your console, though this device isn't yet available in the US.

With Sony's PlayStation 4 still outselling the Xbox One, Microsoft needs to make sure its console stays relevant with the right features that can appeal to both current owners as well as prospective new buyers. The company's many updates through 2014 show that it has made a determined effort to do just that. But still, the Xbox One has needed and continues to need more than just monthly updates if Microsoft wants to boost sales.

In one attempt to woo holiday shoppers, Microsoft cut the price of its Xbox One lineup by $50 earlier this month. That followed a strategy of offering free games with the console and rolling out a less-expensive version that didn't include the Kinect.

Microsoft is also counting on help from some of the industry's most popular game titles, which are being released throughout the holiday season. But will such hot titles as Call of Duty, Battlefield and Assassin's Creed convince more gamers to buy an Xbox One? Or will Microsoft have to employ yet another strategy beyond new games, prices cuts, and regular updates to lure in more buyers?