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In brief: On Monday, Microsoft announced it would be rolling out a redesigned games store. The update will hit Xbox Insiders first with everyone else getting it by this fall. Improvements include a faster interface, more straightforward navigation, and better parental controls.
Microsoft claims the new Xbox store is twice as fast and loads in under two seconds. If true, this is better than Sony's PlayStation Store, which takes several seconds just to get to the home screen. Game pages will also render faster.
"Far more than a typical app update, we've rebuilt the experience from the ground up to be faster, safer, and easier to use than ever before," the company said.
The interface has been redesign to make browsing more comfortable and streamlined. The search function now has filters to narrow down query returns. Wishlists are easier to use and can now track sale prices. The shopping cart has been revamped as well.
More importantly, the store has been redesigned with the notion making it easier to find cross-generational content. Since expanding Xbox backward compatibility, quickly finding older content is even more desirable.
Refreshed parental controls make it so that any content above a child account's rating threshold will never appear while searching or browsing. Parents or master accounts can still give the okay to out-of-bounds content, however. Allowing exceptions is a nice touch versus the PSN, which disallows content from minor accounts regardless of parental consent. Sony's heavy-handed management of child accounts has been a thorn in my side on more than one occasion.
The new store will be available to Insiders this week, starting on August 5. Microsoft says it will slowly roll the update to regular users over the coming weeks with full implementation coming sometime this fall.