Spencer's focus is on games -- an about-face from Mattrick's "services and entertainment first" approach. Notably, Microsoft found success in January 2015 when it debuted the forthcoming Windows 10 update that brought Xbox One–to–PC game streaming, improved speed and backward compatibility. That rolled out last fall, but if you poke around the Xbox One of today, there are still some skeletons from the console's past lurking in the corners.




Aside from Kinect no longer being a requirement, nothing has changed about the Xbox One's hardware. Until a possible mid-cycle hardware refresh happens, the system still has HDMI input and output sockets on the back, an awkwardly placed USB 3.0 port on the left (plus two more on the back), gigabit Ethernet and a Kinect-specific USB input.


Design-wise, it's still a big, black box, but now you can get it in different game-themed colors if that's your thing. There are now models with 1TB hard disks (or even hybrid hard/solid-state drives), but they all cost more than the standard 500GB configuration, ranging from to $400 to $500. And with support for USB 3.0 external HDDs, it's still more economical to go the 500GB route than for an Xbox One with more internal storage.


Stepping up to the $500 Elite console with the 1TB hybrid drive has a different type of benefit, though: It includes Microsoft's awesome Xbox One Elite controller in the box. Whereas the gamepad that came with the console at launch suffered from sharp edges, stiff shoulder buttons and a generally unfinished feel, the Elite is an improvement in every way.