Wednesday, December 7

Microsoft's Brand New Bag

Over the past couple of days Microsoft has been rolling out a new dashboard and interface for the Xbox 360. This new interface is more than just an easy way of navigating the system, it's an intuitive and complete entertainment package...that I don't really care for.

Before I get into why I don't particularly care for the upgrade, I'll be fair and do a compliment sandwich; something positive, followed by the negative and then closed with a positive. It could be a management technique but I saw it on Family Guy and Stewie makes me giggle.

Firstly, the good - it does have some cool features like voice recognition and activiation with the use of Kinect (untested due to no Kinect), more social media integration with Facebook, Twitter and other apps, as well as simple menus with large square icons. I also like the crispness of the 'floating' menu tabs at the top of the screen and how the items within each tab have been prioritised and placed on the page.

It's crisp to look at and consistent for all you obsessive compulsives like me

Now for the triple layer of non-caring, cheese covered filling. Why do we need yet another look and feel change? What was wrong with the old one? Why do I have to look at ridiculous pictures of people having fun to realise I'm about to have fun myself? Are they there as a distraction to the inane amount of menus I'm going through to perform simple tasks such as watch a movie or download a demo? So many questions, not enough time.

Look at me! I'm on the couch just like you. I'm having so much fun and I'm just reminding you that you are also having fun. My hand is saying stop but really I'm just interacting with my new dashboard. Oh the fun!
The next layer of dissatisfaction relates to the avatar. The Xbox is not a Wii, nor is it a DS or Leapfrog learning play centre thing that little children learn to read on. It's a game system for adults, so why am I having to create avatars for whatever account I'm signing into? Gaming isn't just for kids. Let me be an adult and let me feel like an adult while I'm playing games. Get rid of the avatars!

VandyFan? Not a fan. Go away.

The sour condiment of frustration is the jumpy menu design. While it looks alright on the main menu, moving past the parameters of any given page means you are going to a new tab ie moving from Home to Social to TV etc. This means any jerkiness between menu items is not noticed as it's a natural separation device.

When you delve deeper into the menus, for example when you are looking for demos, the large number of games requires movement through pages but the designers have opted for a jerky search experience, allowing four or five items to a page then an abrupt jerk as you transition to a new page and more items. If you had 25 new release games to search through, that's five pages or more of jerky movements. The previous system was smooth and flowing; these changes seem like a backwards step to me.

Ending on a positive note, the download was quite painless, taking less than five minutes over ADSL1 wifi. I remember starting it, flicking over to the TV, then the system reset and all was finished.

Have you downloaded the new look interface yet? What are your thoughts?


  1. I've heard that download speeds are better, but on the whole I agree with you. They've borrowed a lot of design elements from the Windows Phone 7 UI which would be great if this was a phone.

    Also, trying to find the new XBLA releases in the new Game Marketplace was pretty much fucking impossible.

  2. I know! It's such a turd. I had a feeling it was linked to the phone UI but didn't want to make too many crazy claims. I showed Sherri how to get to the video player and the groan I heard was not one of happiness.

  3. Who groans out of happiness? lololol