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New Xbox One Experience - What You Need to Know

Your Xbox One is about to get a whole lot better, says Microsoft. Launching Nov. 12, the New Xbox One Experience -- that's the official name -- promises to bring a fresh, Windows 10-powered interface to the game console, enabling faster navigation and a handful of nifty social features. You should also be able to finally play a bunch of your Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One. If you're curious exactly how the new update will beef up your system, here's what you need to know.

How do I get the New Xbox One Experience?

The New Xbox One Experience is a completely free software update for all Xbox One owners. Those in Xbox One's Preview program can opt-in to get an early build of the software now. The final version launches for everybody Nov. 12. You'll be prompted on your Xbox One when it's time to update.

What's so new about it?

Quite a lot, actually. The Xbox One interface has been completely rebuilt, with large, user-friendly tiles that should make flipping through games and browsing the digital marketplace easier. Some notable additions will include the new OneGuide tab, which provides a single hub for accessing content from your various entertainment apps, as well as a re-imagined Xbox Store that will have dedicated sections for music, movies and games. Competitive players will likely enjoy the new Game Hubs, which show how you stack up against your friends in a variety of categories, such as total kills and game progress.

MORE: PS4 vs. Xbox One: Which Console Is Right for You?

Perhaps the biggest interface upgrade will be the new Xbox One guide, which should let you easily access your friends list, messages and notifications with a quick double-tap of the Xbox button. It's a nice callback to the Xbox 360 guide, and something that was sorely missing from Xbox One at launch.

The new software will gain Cortana integration sometime next year, which will allow you to browse the store or search the Web for game tips using voice commands.

Wait, I'll be able to play my Xbox 360 games on Xbox One?

Yep. The new update heralds the launch of backwards compatibility, which Microsoft says will allow you to play more than 100 Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One. The list of confirmed backward-compatible titles includes Borderlands, Mass Effect and Gears of War, which are all available today for those in the Preview program. The program supports both disc-based and digital games, and you can transfer your old saves via cloud storage.

You'll be able to use all of Xbox One's usual sharing features, such as screenshots, Twitch streaming and Game DVR, when playing your older titles. Some developers are already taking advantage of this feature to add value to their new games; for example, buying the upcoming Fallout 4 gets you the 360 version of Fallout 3, just as picking up Rainbow Six: Siege will get you the 360 versions of Rainbow Six Vegas 1 and 2.