Xbox 360 Fall 2011 Dashboard Update Features and Expectations
On November 15, 2005, exactly four years after the first Xbox console hit the market, Microsoft released the Xbox 360. The new system was an instant hit, and the original Xbox was soon forgotten. In contrast with the short lifecycle of the first Xbox, the Xbox 360 is heading into what will be its seventh year of existence, and it is stronger than ever, with more than 55 million systems sold worldwide to date and counting. One way Microsoft has kept consumer interest this high is by regularly updating the Xbox 360's feature-set.
In this article, I will look at what is shaping up to be Microsoft's biggest software update yet, scheduled for holiday 2011, with an all new interface and a greatly expanded feature-set.
Even when the console was first released, the Xbox 360's tabbed user interface, otherwise known as the Xbox 360 dashboard, was well designed and relatively straightforward to use. Over time, however, as the Xbox 360's feature-set and service offerings expanded, the dashboard was modified to try and keep up with the changes. Now, with this latest batch of updates, the dashboard will undergo its most radical change yet.
By using the same "Metro" design found in Windows Phone and the upcoming Windows 8, Microsoft has done away with the current dashboard's design, which spreads its content across multiple vertical and horizontal panels. Instead, the latest update, as shown in Figure 1, presents each category's content on a single screen. This design provides easier access to the content you're looking for, as you no longer have to wade through long lists of items like you do now. It also helps that the design is aesthetically pleasing.
Figure 1 The Xbox 360's new horizontal dashboard is reminiscent of what's found on Windows Phone and the upcoming Windows 8
Besides its easier navigation and striking good looks, the new dashboard works just as well with the Kinect sensor as it does with the standard controller. Having done away with the dedicated and very limited Kinect hub, Microsoft's motion controlling wonder can now be used throughout the dashboard. This is particularly useful since Microsoft already improved Kinect's ability to recognize gestures while seated, so navigating through the categories by swiping your hand left and right will be a breeze from the comfort of your sofa.