Xbox Begins Testing New, Sleeker Home UI Design

Microsoft is in the final testing stages of a new Xbox Home update that'll declutter the current experience. It began testing several revisions last month but switched gears after community feedback dictated that the user interface was too busy. The icons were big and numerous, making the dashboard feel crowded. People found it especially hard to enjoy the wallpapers they'd applied.

Microsoft said it started with hundreds of proposed changes before it whittled down a more balanced result. The company trialed prototypes with a select group of user testers. "It balances the experience, accessibility, function, and the needs of our community," Lead of Xbox Experiences Ivy Krislov wrote.

The updated dashboard features a new guide menu that's always affixed to the center-top of your screen, giving you quick access to your game library, the Microsoft Store, Game Pass, the search function, and the settings menu. Now, when you're perusing the smaller shortcuts at the bottom of the home screen, the background dynamically changes to reflect whichever game you're hovering over.

Another cool tweak: the new Xbox Home can now signify when there's something within a section that needs your attention. For instance, if your games have pending updates or something from your wishlist is on sale, you'll see an indicator on the tile for your game library and Microsoft Store tiles. Microsoft may change or iterate on the behavior and scope of this feature while it's still being finalized.

How to get the new Xbox Home dashboard

If you want to try the new Xbox Home experience yourself, you'll need to join Xbox Insiders, the program that allows users to test the latest updates early. You must enroll in the Alpha Skip-Ahead and Alpha testing rings to be eligible. Download the app by searching for "Xbox Insider Hub" on your Xbox One, Xbox Series X, or Xbox Series S, then follow the instructions within the app to participate in whichever capacity you prefer.

Not sure whether you should do that? Your apprehension is understandable, but you have much to worry about. There haven't been large experience-breaking bugs introduced with one of these tests since the Xbox 360's "New Xbox Experience" debacle, which temporarily disallowed party chats between people who were on different versions of the dashboard.

There hasn't been much controversy since, so don't worry about something like that happening. But you should understand that signing on as an early tester comes with the possibility of experiencing bugs. Thankfully, Microsoft regularly monitors bug reports through its Insiders community at Reddit, and it's typically brisk to address issues.