Microsoft plans to simplify Windows 10 Xbox app, starts by removing group messaging

Following the release of the Xbox One 1905 Update last week, Microsoft has started notifying users of the Windows 10 Xbox app that the Xbox Live Messaging experience will soon be revamped. According to the message shared by Windows Central, the Xbox app will get the same Message Request feature that Microsoft is bringing to Xbox One consoles and the new Xbox Game Bar on Windows 10, as well as support for GIFs.

Image credit: Windows Central

However, Microsoft is also warning users that the Windows 10 Xbox app will also lose its group messaging functionality, adding that “a desktop solution for group messaging is coming soon” (Group messaging is already supported in the new Xbox Game Bar). These changes to the Xbox app are apparently coming tomorrow, May 23, and you can read the full message below:

We will be upgrading our messaging services to introduce improved chat features (secondary inbox for non-friends, GIFs, and more). Sadly, your old group messages will be lost during the upgrade, so copy any old chats that you want to keep on Xbox.com.

After the transition, we will be removing group messaging from this app to focus on console settings and simplify our apps. But rest assured a desktop solution for group messaging is coming soon so be sure to update Windows to get the newst Xbox apps and experiences when they become available.

In the meantime, please use the Xbox app on iOS/Android for the upgraded group messages experience. The upgraded group messages will be available on your Xbox console on 23 May.

Thanks for understanding. We continue to look to you and your feedback to help us build the best Xbox apps so please let us know how we’re doing as we transition!

The part where Microsoft says that it will “focus on console settings and simplify our apps” is quite interesting. The new Xbox Game Bar, which has dedicated widgets for Xbox Live Messages and the Looking for Groups social feature, is already much faster than the Xbox UWP app, which has become quite bloated over the years. Perhaps it’s time for Microsoft to trim it a bit and refocus it on some of its killer features, such as Xbox game streaming to Windows 10 PCs.

Microsoft is expected to kick off public trials for its Project xCloud game streaming service later this year, and we’re wondering if the Xbox app could also be used to handle xCloud streaming on Windows 10 PCs. It would make sense if the Xbox app could finally be used to play actual Xbox games, even though those are streamed from the cloud. Otherwise, Microsoft could well launch a separate xCloud UWP app that would do the heavy lifting, similar to what the company did with its Windows Mixed Reality Portal for VR headsets.

This is all speculation for now, but with the Xbox Game Bar becoming really good for everything related to Xbox Live social features, maybe it’s time for the Windows 10 Xbox app to get a bigger gaming role. “I know we’ve talked quite a bit over time about what we want to deliver for the player on PC, but at E3 this year, and throughout 2019, you’ll begin to see where we’ve been investing to deliver across Store, services, in Windows and in great games. It’s just the beginning,” said Xbox head Phil Spencer back in February in an interview with PC Gamer. We’re hoping to hear more during Microsoft’s E3 press briefing on June 9.

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