The New 360 Dashboard and What it Means for Us

The New 360 Dashboard and What it Means for Us

  • By: CM Boots-Faubert
  • Posted 23rd Dec 2011

Dashboard Version 2

The first major change -- most users do not like to call it an upgrade -- to the system dashboard was rolled out on November 19, 2008, when the Xbox 360 dashboard was changed from the "Blade" interface to a dashboard layout design that was closer to that found on Microsoft's Zune media player and the Windows Media Center, a change that was promoted by Microsoft as the "New Xbox Experience" or NXE.

Not surprisingly the majority of users were not thrilled with the changes -- while Microsoft may have felt that its Zune Media Player was a viable competitor to Apple's iOS based iPod and iPhone, nobody else did. Which may be why the device basically tanked. Either way though, as the darling of Microsoft's vision of the future of media and entertainment, the Zune ended up stamping its mark upon the dashboard, and Xbox 360 owners got used to it.

A look at the original and the new dashboards and what the upgrade did...

The largest complaints revolved around the fact that many of the key interface commands that were most often used were moved and, worse, there was no intuitive path to find them -- but the discovery that the simplified blade-based interface that was called up by the Guide Button had remained largely unaffected by these changes made it all better for most users, who simply reverted to using that if they had not already been doing so, and all was right with the world.

Several minor updates for the Dashboard software followed, but it was not until the release of the Kinect motion-based controller system that the folks at Microsoft began to make noise about changing the interface for the dashboard again -- and at E3 2011 they rolled out a demo of the new design that had most games journos scratching their head -- the new design largely assumed that the majority of gamers had obtained and were using the Kinect controller, an assumption that did not appear to be supported by the Xbox and LIVE communities.

The minor updates included adding new features to the console to make access to Live and multimedia playback simpler, and added compatibility for some of the new peripheral accessories like the Kinect, while fixing a handful of minor bugs in the software that had cropped up since its initial deployment. The roll-out of the incremental updates also served to illustrate the new policy that Microsoft had adopted regarding mandatory acceptance of any changes made by the service -- refusing to accept the terms or the updates resulted in your access to the LIVE service being disabled!