By Maria Montoro & Amanda Kondolojy
- NEW DASHBOARD -
July 28, 2008 - When Microsoft's developers first started working on the current Xbox 360 dashboard, they planned on having around 100 to 200 items available at any given time. However, things didn't turn out as expected, and that number quickly multiplied itself. They currently host around 20,000 items.
I'm sure many of you, as I, often get lost navigating the current dashboard, trying to find those hidden goodies and take full advantage of the offerings. Microsoft has felt our pain, and given the advancements and upgrades of its competitors (SONY and Nintendo), they couldn't help but redesign the Xbox 360 dashboard in order to make it more exciting and user-friendly.
We got a quick tour of the new Xbox experience while visiting Microsoft's E3 booth, and here are our impressions, along with some info that should help to clear up some of your doubts.
The Xbox 360 menu interface will be updated this fall, and there's no turning back. Online updates as well as new game discs will take care of that task. Your current Gamertag and themes will remain unchanged, but new things will be added, and the overall look of the dashboard will drastically change. Not everyone likes changes, so the devs are trying to make sure they will please everyone and make the new experience as good as it can possibly be. Let's hope they don't let us down!
For starters, they're aware of how important building a community and user-created content is nowadays. Up until now, we were identified as gamers through a GamerCard. However, Microsoft knew achievement points and a picture avatar wasn't enough. The triumph of Miis on Nintendo's Wii console speaks for itself, and Microsoft's developers wanted to give Xbox 360 gamers an opportunity to express themselves with personal, animated characters as well. You could say Microsoft developers are "copycats," but the fact is users will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this new addition. The PS3 will also include customized and animated avatars when home launches towards the end of the year, so Xbox 360 wasn't going to stay in the past.
In addition to avatars, the whole menu interface has been rehashed. Reminiscent of the Windows Vista operating system, fancy windows will group and form a cascade menu that will be easily navigated by scrolling up or down. There will be different channels or "windows," each with their own submenu, which you will enter once you make your selection. First, you'll find "My Xbox Channel." It will give you quick access to your own game, video, picture, and music library. This dynamic menu will change depending on your most common usage of that content. The Marketplace channel will contain all the available downloads, from Xbox Live Arcade games to new theme packs, game demos and trailers, etc. Players will also be able to create community parties and invite their friends to play games, watch movies, etc. (much like what's expected of SONY's home).