After a short delay Microsoft has finally pushed out a long-awaited update that is set to change the way users use and interact with their Xbox 360 console. The updates run deep but immediately noticeable is the brand new Windows Phone 7-style user interface that bears more than a little resemblance to the new Windows 8 “Metro” design.
The updated UI now organises options into big squares separated by multiple tabs that run along the top of the screen, amongst them a new “Social” option containing Kinect Video Chat, Facebook and Twitter. Kinect owners will be delighted to hear that this new dashboard is fully navigable using Kinect, and even includes Bing voice-activated search (“Xbox. Bing. Query”).
Bing integration only operates locally and via Microsoft’s own channels (such as Game Marketplace) and does not cover the web in general. Xbox Live Gold members will also enjoy a few other additions including a new “Apps” tab which offers different content dependent on region, including new video-on-demand and live streaming services.
Also exclusive to Xbox Live Gold members is cloud storage, allowing users to store save game data on the cloud for peace of mind and easy access. This feature will allow any user to log in on an Internet-enabled console and retrieve their personal save data.
Last but not least, Windows Phone 7 users can now enjoy greater connectivity between their phone and console. Amongst the features are Xbox Live Achievements for WP7 gamers and the sharing of music between WP7 devices and the 360 and PCs.
According to the launch team, the update is now available to everyone using the service. Microsoft’s Larry Hryb announced via Twitter “The
#XboxUpdate is currently on its way to all 35 million Xbox LIVE members around the world“.
Have you downloaded the new Xbox 360 update? Do you like it? Does Kinect and WP7 integration tickle you? Have a say below.