Microsoft is releasing a new Xbox One update for its preview members today, and it includes access to Cortana for the first time. While Microsoft had originally planned to introduce Cortana for Xbox One last year, the company delayed the digital assistant integration to include it with the Anniversary Update to the console. Cortana will appear in the Xbox One dashboard, and you'll be able to access the voice assistant through the Kinect sensor or a headset. As a result, Microsoft is altering the way you activate Xbox voice commands to just "Hey Cortana."
Cortana integration will be available in the US, UK, Italy, Germany, and Spain initially, and you'll be able to use the digital assistant to launch parties, see what friends are playing, and do basic tasks. Cortana will even recognize your friends real names or gamertags. Microsoft says it plans to add Cortana features over time, so the initial preview of capabilities won't be the full set just yet.
Alongside the Cortana integration, the Xbox One update also includes a number of new features that coincide with Microsoft's plans to combine the Xbox and Windows Store experience. A new game collection UI makes it a lot easier to see what games are ready to install, and the tiled interface is now vertically aligned instead of browsing horizontally. Microsoft is also improving the sharing feature of the Xbox app for Windows 10, allowing you to share screenshots and game clips directly to Twitter.
While the Xbox and Windows Stores aren't fully integrated just yet in this initial preview, Microsoft is tweaking the store regardless. Improvements include the ability to filter what games are on sale in the store, and access bundles, season passes, and other DLC a lot easier. On the PC side, this means games purchased from Steam or elsewhere will now show up as a game hub on Xbox Live so you can share clips, screenshots, and start parties using the Xbox app on Windows 10.
Microsoft is allowing preview members to opt-in to testing this update initially, and a subset of the features will be available to preview testers this week before they're expanded more broadly. Microsoft is merging the Xbox One Preview program with the Windows Insider program, so feedback will be more streamlined for both the Xbox app on Windows 10 and the dashboard upgrades. Preview members will start testing the new Xbox One update this week, and it will roll out to all Xbox One users later in the summer.