软件。近年来，微软一直在推广依托于扁平化的二维图块的视觉体验。Windows Phone是开路先锋，Windows 8紧随其后，Xbox One也亦步亦趋。它简洁干净、易于识别。如果说浏览PlayStation 4的菜单用不了五分钟，那掌握Xbox One的就更快了——它的菜单更加直观灵敏。
设置是个非常简单、但比较费时间的过程，运行前需要安装一系列软件更新（公司发言人称，消费者将不需要下载这些更新或等这么长时间）。对Xbox 360来说，只有一些小游戏才要用到Kinect。对Xbox One来说，Kinect在技术上也不是必备的——从公司今年春季的一个声明看，这是政策上的一个改变。但考虑到每台游戏机包装里都带有一个Kinect，更不用说Xbox One和几款首发游戏都要用语音识别，要想从这款设备中获得最大乐趣，Kinect感觉就是必不可少的了。用户并不是非要用语音命令才能浏览各种功能，但在某些情况下，这确实更容易些。比如，说一句“Xbox启动吧”就能让它开启——它需要约十秒钟执行这一命令——这确实能让我免去为了开启它而必须在房间里前后走动的小麻烦。对其他任务，如回放电影，也可以使用这个功能。通过说话让Xbox快进，同时开启隐藏字幕要比用手柄操纵更容易，而且这时候会让人感觉这项功能不是那么徒有虚名。
微软并不只是把Xbox One当成下一代游戏机来推广的，它是真正的家庭娱乐中心。通过将有线电视或卫星机顶盒和游戏机相连，用户可浏览节目、换频道，也能用“Xbox，调大声音”这类基本的语音命令调高或调低声音。一项名为“快照”（Snap）的软件新功能充当了微软类似电视“画中画”功能的互动模块。它是一个位于电视屏幕右侧的垂直面板，可通过语音命令或手柄来使用。用户可用它来同时运行几种内容：电视、音乐和视频等等。它基本上如广告所宣称的那么管用，但在有几次测试中却不尽如人意。比如，有一次我在主屏幕上玩游戏，快照面板中正在播放的电影《钢铁侠》（Man of Steel ）出现了严重的拖影现象。在其他情况下，电影的播放十分流畅（微软表示，等到这款设备正式推出的时候，这种性能问题将会得到解决）。
任何一款新游戏机，如果没有一批靠谱的游戏，它都没法让人趋之若鹜。正如我上周在PS4的测评中所提到的，这款游戏机上首推的许多游戏，包括《刺客信条4：黑旗与战场4》（Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Battlefield 4），Xbox One发布首日也会有。而实际上，这款游戏也推出了针对老款机型的版本。
The software. In recent years, Microsoft has pushed a visual experience based on flat, two-dimensional tiles. Windows Phone pioneered it, Windows 8 followed, and so does Xbox One. It's clean, minimal and easy-on-the eyes. And while learning how to navigate around the PlayStation 4's menus took less than five minutes, getting around the Xbox One was even quicker -- it's just more intuitive.
Getting set up was a thoroughly simple, though lengthy process, with a series of software updates that required installation before I could get going. (A spokesperson for the company indicated consumers won't have to download the same updates or wait nearly as long.) With the Xbox 360, the Kinect was only required for a subset of games. Here, the Kinect is technically not mandatory either -- a change in policy from a company statement this spring. But given how each unit comes packaged with one, not to mention that the Xbox One and several launch games use voice recognition, and the Kinect feels all-but-essential to get the most from Microsoft's new device. It's not mandatory that users issue voice commands to navigate around, but in some cases, it's actually easier. For one, commanding the device to power up by saying "Xbox On" -- which it does in around 10 seconds -- sure saves me the small hassle of walking back-and-forth across the room. The same goes for the other tasks like movie playback. Telling the Xbox to fast-forward and turn on closed-captioning is easier to do via voice than fiddling with the controller and for once, feels less like a gimmick.
In other cases, voice recognition still doesn't quite cut it. For now, the Kinect seems fine with basic commands -- going to the console's main screen, switching between apps, and actual video playback -- but getting from Point A to Point B in Netflix (NFLX) and Hulu entirely by voice sometimes felt like it took twice the time it normally would if I had stuck with using the controller, even after Microsoft recommended I re-calibrate Kinect to better pick up my voice. There are clearly kinks to be worked out, so for now, the best way to get around may yet be a combination of button presses and voice.
Microsoft is pushing the Xbox One not just as next-generation gaming device but as serious home entertainment hub. By hooking up a cable or satellite box to the console, users can browse programming, change channels, as well as raise and lower volume by issuing basic voice commands such as "Xbox, volume up." A new software feature called "Snap" serves as Microsoft's interactive take on TV's "picture-in-picture" feature. It's a vertical pane summoned by voice or controller to the right side of the television screen where users can have something else running at the same time: TV, music, video and so on. It worked mostly as advertised, although in a few tests, the movie Man of Steel seriously stuttered in the Snap pane, while I played a game on the main screen. In other cases, the film played smoothly. (Microsoft says the performance issue will be fixed by launch.)
No new console would be compelling without a solid stable of games. As I mentioned last week in my PS4 review, many of that console's initial titles, including Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Battlefield 4 will also be available for Xbox One on the first day, and indeed, the former is already available for older consoles, too.