Xbox keeps updating

The latest Xbox One system update launched on July 30th. Check out all the new and updated features in the August update video. Following weeks of wall-to-wall, often sleepless gaming, I finally parked my Xbox One in an armoire in my living room, dropped the gamepad in a drawer and took a much-needed break.I needed some downtime from the console’s beautiful rides and zombie mobs and risible breast physics.

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So I’m baffled this morning, returning to it to investigate this new update, released last night, that it wouldn’t download anything.And further, that my system started exhibiting bizarre menu lag for no apparent reason.By menu lag, I mean sluggishness shifting left or right through the Metro tile interface.A week ago, that interface was fast and fluid and totally hitch-free, but this morning, it’s like someone walked the frame rate down to single-digits-ville.I noticed one of the issues the update fixes was: “Addresses dashboard performance for some users.” I can’t imagine what changed between now and a week ago that I’m now one of “some users.” Did Microsoft issue a silent update that my Xbox One downloaded unwittingly, and that introduced the issue?

Poke around in your Xbox One settings and you’ll find nothing helpful, no log files or download histories to peruse, no way to guesstimate what might have knocked things out of orbit.

It’s as if Microsoft believes we’re living in some perfect future moment, where being able to back-step through a device’s activities is nonessential, and where system updates work without problems every time.

My Xbox One finally devoured the update an hour or so after I powered it up (then off, then back on, then back off, and so forth in my attempt to trigger the process).

When it finally happened, it was without notification.

On the umpteenth turn-off, the console stayed off — it wouldn’t reawaken to the voice command “Xbox, on.” That, according to Microsoft, is your indicator the update’s been downloaded: you have to say “Xbox, on,” and if your Xbox doesn’t wake up — after you’ve said it four or five times, just to be sure it’s not — you can walk over, tap the faceplate to manually power up, then wait another minute or so for a green bar to fill, indicating the download has been applied.

The good news: my menu’s performance is back to nominal, though I still have no idea what sent it off-kilter. I wish Microsoft would consider demystifying the process, or at least bracket what’s happening during the update with screen prompts (so you know, for instance, that it’s detected an update, and that you need to power the system down to make the magic happen).