The “New Xbox Experience” won’t be so new anymore, as Microsoft is rolling out the third version of the Xbox 360 dashboard this week. Abandoning the “blades” of previous Xbox UI’s, the new update will change your Xbox menus to the supposedly more intuitive “Metro” style user interface that Microsoft is incorporating into all of their operating systems.
A lot of the new UI is simply aesthetic changes: the overall look is a lot less cluttered, and overall looks a lot more sleek and minimal than the current 360 menus. The biggest change under the hood are new, integrated Kinect support that let you navigate every aspect of the dashboard with voice and gesture comamnds, and a new Bing search feature, which will hopefully make navigating the maze of menus, sub-menus, and sub-sub-menus that is the Xbox Live Arcade store somewhat more manageable. The new UI also lets you set “Beacons,” which announce to your friends over XBL or Facebook that you’re playing a certain game or are looking for a party. I can already foresee my Facebook feed getting an unwelcome flood of these “Beacons,” a-la Farmville, so hopefully there’ll be a way to filter those posts.
Disappointingly, some features of the new UI won’t be available with this week’s update: streaming TV services from Verizon Fios won’t be available until the end of the year, and Comcast and HBO won’t have their services running until sometime “early next year.” A variety of other service providers, including Youtube, VUDU, VEVO, and, uh, TMZ, will also miss the launch of the new update.