The Xbox Insider program has its nuances and is a bit more complicated than the Windows Insider program. The four tiers of Insiders for Xbox get access to different builds and features; Insiders on the Alpha Ring were recently greeted by a surprising development: a File Explorer for Xbox One.
Consoles are meant to be locked-down – that’s the entire point of them – but Microsoft’s decision to bring the UWP File Explorer to Xbox One puts that notion out the window.
The File Explorer can browse the Xbox filesystem, but only the parts of it that Microsoft is comfortable with. Users can also open files via the File Explorer, such as a video file in the VLC player for Xbox One.
More importantly, it gives users a convenient way to browse USB flash drives as well as external hard disks.
If we judge Microsoft by its actions, it seems that Xbox One is destined to become more PC-like, albeit with a few limitations to keep things simple.
The PC-likeness also reflects in the efforts Microsoft has put in bringing UWP apps to the Xbox One. Last week, the Skype Preview UWP app came to the Xbox One. This week, it’s OneDrive.
Xbox One already has a OneDrive app, but it’s based on the old and abandoned Windows 8 version. The new UWP app is identical to the one available on Windows 10.
That’s important to note. The app on Windows 10 can open Excel, Word, and PowerPoint files. The Xbox One can now do the same with the new app. That’s the beauty of UWP.
In other words, the Xbox One can now be used as a tax calculator. Just like a PC. Yeah, we are going there.
Putting the meme aside, Microsoft’s eagerness in bringing the Xbox and PC platforms closer is exciting. Microsoft is also uniquely positioned to do so, as none of its competitors have a stronghold on PC. Though, Sony might have a few plans of its own.
The new app is available on the Xbox One under the “Ready to Install” list. It’s not on the Xbox Store, for now. That’s strange, but Microsoft and strangeness go hand-in-hand.
The easiest way to tell apart the new UWP app from the old one is the tile icon. The old app changes its color per Xbox theme settings, while the new one remains blue.