Xbox -- and Microsoft in general -- doesn't really show up for CES. It's not hard to understand why: for a big company like Microsoft, there's no point in competing with the cacophony of voices shouting for attention. "Whenever we want, we can talk about Xbox stuff and get coverage. Why try to talk with 100,000 other things going on?" Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten told us in an interview this week. Though Xbox isn't here to show anything off, Whitten's in town to meet with partners and, as he put it, "It's just a good time to pop up and see an environmental scan you can get in an immediate dose." After a long 2013 head-down on the Xbox One launch, he's finally got a second to take the temperature and see the world outside of Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., campus.
But we're not here to ask Whitten about the past. Yes, he's "really thrilled" with the console's launch (more than 3 million sold by the end of 2013). And yes, he's very happy with the reaction from consumers. That doesn't mean work's over, of course. "There are seams in the product [XB1]. There are still seams in the 360; nothing's ever done," Whitten said. As such, first up on the fix docket is what Whitten called, "the Live experience." Essentially, that's much of the social features on the latest Xbox console. Whitten takes that stuff personally, having worked on Xbox Live as a service for the last 10 years:
"The feedback we've gotten is pretty valid; some of the social stuff is hidden or harder to use than it was on the Xbox 360. So you're gonna see us come out with an update where, well, we're going to fix those things. As a person who's been pretty involved in building Xbox Live for the last decade, I take it pretty seriously when people say it's harder to get into a party, and the defaults aren't right, and I don't like the model. So what I'm trying to do with the team is kind of theme some stuff up. Let's take an update and really go through a big list of what we're hearing from customers, what we know is broken with the architecture, areas that we want to improve or complete. I think that's a theme you'll really see us push on -- that Live experience."