updated 04:50 pm EST, Thu November 10, 2011
Microsoft sends tile-based Xbox 360 UI
Microsoft on Thursday started giving beta users its promised fall 2011 Xbox 360 Dashboard update. The upgrade introduces the tiled, Windows Phone 7-like interface we first saw at E3 and organizes sections that would normally need hierarchical sections into groups. The interface is more optimized for the Kinect and lets users search for content across the whole Xbox and Xbox Live using voice, although a gamepad fallback is available.
It also brings an app concept to the Xbox 360 and includes music, social, and video apps. These include existing ones such as the Zune music and video marketplaces, Facebook, and Twitter, but also new ones such as YouTube and live TV services. Most of the live TV requires an existing cable or satellite TV subscription and is intended more for viewing elsewhere in the house. Vudu movies are coming as part of the mix.
Subtler changes include Beacons, or signals of a desire to play a particular game regardless of what's currently happening and a cloud save game feature to preserve progress. Windows Phone owners get app-based remote control.
Details of the test are secret due to the beta test's nature, but Microsoft is expected to push out the finished version of the Dashboard revamp within a few weeks.