Microsoft is planning to bring Cortana to the Xbox One next month, but if you're happy using the existing Kinect Xbox voice commands then you won't be forced to enable the digital assistant. While early beta versions of Cortana for Xbox One were designed to disable Xbox commands once Cortana was enabled, Microsoft has pushed out an update that will allow users to disable the assistant and return to the old Xbox commands.
The reason for the change is clear, the preview of Cortana for Xbox One has been slow and cumbersome for those using Kinect to control media on the console. Microsoft isn't planning to combine both the old "Xbox" and "Hey Cortana" commands yet, and Xbox One users will have to pick the limited old options or the new abilities of Cortana. It's not clear whether Microsoft plans to make Cortana quicker for media controls in the future, or whether it's simply a limitation of the way the digital assistant uses the cloud to process voice queries. We've reached out to Microsoft to clarify whether it plans to drop the mandatory requirement for Cortana, as the company had planned to push an update out in the future that would force Cortana and remove the legacy Xbox voice commands.
Existing Xbox One preview members will notice the change in the recent preview update, and all other Xbox One owners will get access to the summer update next month. Microsoft is also adding access to Windows 10 apps on Xbox One, and a number of UI improvements to make installing old games and apps a lot easier.