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Coffee Talk #428: The Xbox 360 2011 Dashboard Update and You


Posted on December 7th, by raymond padilla in Coffee Talk, Today's Specials, Xbox 360. 42 comments

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, awesome holiday gift guides, the steady decline of Firefox, or sports drinks reminding you of Aquaman, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Microsoft recently launched a major Xbox 360 dashboard update and I’m dying to hear your thoughts on it. Do you like the overall look and feel? What features are you digging? What features are you hating? Share your thoughts like a Care Bear and tell me everything you’re feeling about the update.

As for me, I can’t look at it as a standalone update. The design is fresher and I’m sure there are some usability enhancements, but that’s not what really interests me here. I love that Microsoft is taking a unified approach and spreading its Metro UI across different platforms. Even though I’m not a big fan of Windows Phone or Windows for PC, I love that Windows Phone 7, Xbox 360, and Windows 8 share a lot of the same design philosophy. It’s smart. It keeps things familiar. It helps create a broader ecosystem (and also makes it harder for customers to leave to competitors). It’s strange to say this, but it’s very Apple of Microsoft.

I don’t know if I’m a fan of the new dashboard, but I’m definitely a fan of the company’s unified approach. Fair play to Microsoft!

Now it’s your turn. Please let me know how you feel about the Xbox 360 Fall 2011 dashboard update.





  • lceman

    Ugh… I really wish Microsoft would leave their graphic interface alone for a while… a longer while, anyway. I really hate having to re-learn how to navigate around this bloody thing all over again.

    It's like when the supermarket decides to re-arrange their isles every couple of years. I understand completely of the marketing purposes of why they do it, but I still hate it.

    Also, I have no intention of buying a Windows Phone or using Windows 8 in the near future. It would be better (for the consumer) if Microsoft would create an Apple and/or Android App that allows us to have at least some of that cross-platform functionality that is now limited to Win Phones.

    Lastly, if anyone from Microsoft is reading this, please give us the gamer’s equivalent of Face Time, only instead of being able to see each other’s faces, we can see the games they are playing live.

    -M

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 N8R

    I would like an opt out option, but I get it.

    I like the advent of the apps. They seem smoother and more integrated. Especially Netflix. It streams much faster and is pretty easy to navigate.

    However, it seems like I have to make twice as many movements than I used to. There are times when I just want to watch videos so I don't even turn on the controller since I have the remote. Holding down a button on the remote doesn't help. So, you have to press a button maybe 12 times to watch a damn movie that's already on the damn Xbox. That's stupid. But, there's still the OG blades.

    I'm looking forward to the YouTube and HBO GO apps.

    The beacons… I'm not sure what the hell those really do. I know what they are for, I just question the practicality of them. I think it would just be far easier to be able to select a game from your list and then hit another button to see which of your friends have played that game. From there, you can invite people or not.

    I also noticed that my games (installed ones anyway, then again I install everything to keep the heat and noise down) boot much faster.

    As for the statement of "that's very Apple of them"… c'mon, what else is new? Windows 7 was Steve Jobs' idea. I know this because I was on Leopard when it released. The Zune… need I say more. The GUI interface was another one and let's not forget the mouse. The innovation usually starts at Apple and then trickles down like Reaganomics. For whatever reason, there are alot of Windows enthusiasts who refuse to believe that even when the evidence is in black and white in front of them. The fact is… it's a business. And a model that works, is a model that works. Nobody sees this more clearly than the competition of the model that works. I don't condemn MS for "ripping off Apple"… I commend them for legally adopting a proven model. Cheers. Name a non-monopolized, lucrative industry that isn't like that, I dare you.

    • lceman

      The NFL. Even though they are a monopoly (of sorts), they have not adopted the college BCS system which generates way more money than the playoff system.

      If the NFL adopts the BCS "bowl" game system, just about half the teams in the NFL will be eligible for a bowl game at the end of the season. If the NFL has seven bowl games and one for the championship, then they could take each one of those games and potentially earn massive revenue (through marketing), so that instead of having one Super Bowl game at the end of the season, you have seven "mini" super bowls and one major super bowl. It could essentially double or triple revenue.

      -M

      P.S.- Somebody please delete this post before Roger Goodell sees it.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 N8R

        I would call the NFL a monopoly… but not in the typical sense.

        And (and this could be long and heated)… I think the NFL doesn't have enough teams to do that justice. One of the semi-pro hockey leagues tried something like that and it flopped because it made it so that only 2 teams in the league wouldn't make the playoffs. When this is the case, seriously… what's the point of the whole season before that? That's not a league, that's a tournament with alot of scrimmages preceding it.

        I'd lose interest, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

        • lceman

          My reference to the NFL monopoly is that there is no competitor aside from college football. Of course, that is up for debate, but if the NFL had true competitors, it would be like the AFL, XFL, Indoor Football, etc., or think of when it was the NFC vs. AFC.

          It could work if they market it correctly because (for example) you love the Steelers and you will always watch the Steelers no matter who they are playing or what, where, when they are playing. Don't tell me you wouldn't want to go to or watch one of these mini super bowl games if the Steelers were playing the Raiders in one of them. So maybe seven is too many, but the point is if they get like the top 35% (or so) of teams, the season becomes a race to get to a bowl game and, of course, the championship bowl game instead of the playoffs/Super Bowl.

          If you take your emotions out of the equation, you'll see how this has the potential to make more money than the NFL's current post-season system.

          Personally, I would hate it.

          -M

          • Smartguy

            I would hate it as well. I like the Highlander aspect of the NFL playoffs…there can be only 1!

            As far as the BCS is concerned…there are too many conferences for a playoff format unless they keep the same polling format to help do the seeds. I think the outcome would be the same though. The SEC will win it all no matter what.

          • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 N8R

            For real… my love for the Steelers started before I even watched football. I recognized what the organization did for my neighborhood very early on and truly did not understand the game of football until years later, like after I graduated high school (I was way too neck deep in music to notice). So, you got me on the fact that my love for the Steelers transcends football itself or any league and/or tournament system.

            But…

            If it reached a point where I thought going all the way and proving to the world that we were indeed the city of champyinz didn't mean a god damn thing… I couldn't support the league in which they played, therefore ANY team playing in it. I would be so pissed at the league it's not even comical. At that point they would literally be saying that not only our 6 Lombardi trophies were worthless, but so are the other 40 Lombardi trophies that were earned by true champions (well, except for at least 2 of the Patriots).

            I really would be the old fart that whines about how it used to be. Bet me.

            But… I do see your point as well.

    • Smartguy

      Ha. The ppl at Xerox are still reeling at Jobs for taking the GUI from them.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 N8R

        I've been thinking all day on the best way to respond to this. The best way I can respond is that "What I meant was they did it before Windows"… but that's a bullshit response. I had honestly forgotten about that Xerox PC. It really was the first, but why didn't it catch on?

        Around that time, I was in Catholic school and we actually had a computer class (from second grade on). All the computers were Apple IIe's (because of the whole grocery receipt thing I never fully understood). Most of the time, they had us programming LOGO, but like once every 3 months or so, we'd play games and everyone would fight over Wheel of Fortune or Carmen San Diego. I remember thinking that LOGO was boring as hell. but I understood what a computer was and what it was capable of.

        At the same time, I had a friend named Kai who I was in Cub Scouts with. His dad had one of the OG Macintoshes pretty early on. I remember it starting up and hearing that sound… right there I was mesmerized. When I saw the interface, I was in Wonderland. Nothing I had ever seen was like that. We played Dark Castle on that thing for hours. He eventually stopped inviting me over because that was all I wanted to do when I was over there.

        So… when I think of the first GUI, I'm pretty much selfishly thinking of the first one I experienced. That's the real answer.

        • Smartguy

          From what I can tell based on his biography is that Xerox didn't know who to market it too. At the time command line was king and ppl couldn't see past that. The computer wasn't seen as something everybody would own but simply a device for high tech ppl who could build their own. Also Xerox did their best to hide it from Jobs, but ultimately failed.

  • bsukenyan

    I actually didn't think it was a hard interface to learn at all. Can't really say I like it completely yet, but I immediately recognized the similarities between other Windows products coming out already/soon (WinMo7 in particular). The search function is pretty nice as well when the Kinect is hooked up. Voice command searching that is comprehensive between music, movies, and games is a pretty nice feature. If it was in the last dashboard it was not as easy to find or use as this is now.

    It's things like this update that make me want a WinMo7 all the more, and look forward to Windows 8 getting a full release.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 N8R

      No… Not hard to learn at all.

      I just think its a tad more… Exhausting (?) to use.

      • bsukenyan

        That's what I thought at first too. It seemed like the Netflix app was unnecessarily hidden or far away from the starting screen, but the quickplay option on the main screen you start at moves quickly and keeps Netflix there (it is used on my profile enough that it will always be there). The movements are very fluid which helps. Extra movements for me so far have been when moving from screen to screen (blade to blade I suppose) with only the analog stick. Yes you can make those movements easily with the right and left bumpers, but it is nice to use the analog stick, which you either have to move to the top of the screen, or suffer going from panel to panel until you make it to the next blade.

        Of course the new cloud storage for game saves is nice (albeit small) and I look forward to seeing how useful this feature is. The only downside so far is that I can't use Bing to search my hard drive and play the movies I have there.

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 N8R

          I'm mainly referring to the functionality with the official Xbox remote. There are MANY times where I'm only turning the console on to watch something. Hell, even when I'm done playing a game and switch to watch something, I turn off the controller and use the remote alone. I'd rather use one hand to control this stuff. This way I can use my other hand for other things (mind out of the gutter). It also saves the battery life on the controller, and I'm getting greener as I get older.

          So, there are no LB and RB buttons on the remote, so you have to scroll through them one button press at a time since it doesn't hold the signal when you hold the button.

          To be fair though, I didn't even check out the quick play box so that's a fair point. I'll investigate it more when I get the time. Ultimately though, I do like the functionality of the new UI better, and functionality is more important to me, so I ultimately like it better.

          Now if it will only stop disconnecting me for any reason it can find.

          • bsukenyan

            Yeah I've been disconnected a couple of times too for some reason, the more common thing yesterday was simply not being able to connect to XBL until the third or fourth try. Probably had something to do with so many people downloading the update and getting online with the new system…?

            I don't have the remote so I can't really comment on that, and it's been over 5 years since I've even used one of the xbox remotes. If the signal doesn't hold then I could see it being annoying to use. If that is what you are using the most to control your xbox then I would suggest moving the cursor all the way to the top first and moving left or right from there. It's aggravating to have to move the cursor up in that manner, but with no bumpers that seems to be the best way that I can tell.

  • Smartguy

    I'm a fan of the metro UI on phones and on a multimedia device like the Xbox. I wonder how much Kinect inspired these ideas?

    I am not a fan of metro on my desktop though. I like having a desktop.

    • http://rpad.tv raymond padilla

      Metro's roots can be found in Zune, which was influenced by a lot of designers and execs from the original Xbox team.

      • Smartguy

        Yeah I had the original Zune. I still have it somewhere haha. Damn that thing was huge.

  • http://rpad.tv raymond padilla

    My Xbox Live for iOS is available on iTunes. This could be interesting….

  • SlickyFats

    Has anyone here ever heard of Harry & David, Cushmans, or Wolferman? I am doing sales for them at my new job and we get to try out the products, but they aren't very good IMO.
    Just wondering if anyone else tried them. I may quit this job already. Got into an argument with the instructor about the 100% satisfaction guarantee. The customer ALWAYS gets what they want, then later we are told we can never write XMAS on the personal greeting even if the customer asks for it that way.

    • lceman

      Are you talking about the overpriced-fruit people? I vaguely remember the name on a gift basket or something years ago.

      Why can't you write "Xmas" on the greeting?

      -M

      • SlickyFats

        They said it is against company policy because it is taking Christ out of Christmas. I tried to explain that that statement is asinine because X, Xt, and Xp all mean Christ and the X in Xmas is actually a Greek derivative. They said I was making that up

        • lceman

          Ugh. Ignorant dolts.

          Tell them to read this:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xmas

          You are right, but there is more to it than that. "Xmas" is not a new thing to try to take the Christ out of Christmas. It has been around for hundreds of years (read: before the mass commercialization of Christmas). If anything, this is a much better example of taking Christ out of Christmas:
          http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/11/wal

          See the difference? Now go and spread wisdom to your asinine superiors.

          -M

          • http://www.gameseyeview.com/ nightshade386

            This "War on Christmas" nonsense that some people get so worked up about is only in their heads – kinda like PETA thinking that Mario apparently hating animals because of a "suit" in a decades old game. People need to loosen up about this stuff. It ultimately doesn't matter one lick.

            • lceman

              Yeah, but then how will Fox News get ratings? "The War on Chanukah" just doesn't have the same ring to it, you know?

              -M

              • http://www.gameseyeview.com/ nightshade386

                I'm so burnt out on politics, and the news channels in general. They argue about nonsense. Just fix the damn economy!!

                Admittedly, I'm voting a straight non-incumbat ticket next time around, even if it means having to vote for a third party due to the fact I can't stomach a either a Republican or Democratic option based on conflicts with personal beliefs. I'm just of the opinion that they all need to go.

                • lceman

                  If everyone did that, I think we'd be better off. Personally, I greatly prefer term limits on every elected position, with no perks, and/or Warren Buffet's idea of a politician being ineligible for reelection if the deficit gets to a certain percentage of GDP.

                  It won't solve all of our problems, mind you, but it's a step in the right direction.

                  -M

                  • http://www.gameseyeview.com/ nightshade386

                    A good percentage of the "deficit" would be fixed if people were actually working (or working good jobs instead of at Wal-Mart) and corporations actually paid their fair share, as more tax money would be thrown into the pot. But I digress….

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 N8R

          So all this time, I 've been using Windows Christ?

          • lceman

            Didn't you know? Bill Gates is a secret Freemason. The clues are hidden everywhere… like the Christ Box 360.

            -M

    • Smartguy

      Yeah I just got one of those yesterday from a client. Those ginger almonds gave me an allergic reaction and I spent a few hours sitting in front of a space heater shivering and having my muscles spasm and clench uncontrollably.

      Tasted good though.

  • SlickyFats

    My xbox is still unhooked because it wont power off

    • Smartguy

      That thing is so haunted.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 N8R

      You need an Xorcist.

  • http://www.gameseyeview.com/ nightshade386

    I neither like, nor dislike the new dashboard. It simply "is." It's easy enough to use, and it looks fine. I still prefer it to the PS3 dashboard, which I feel like hides everything in a dark corner somewhere, and I don't own a flashlight. But I don't know it I think it's either better or worse than the previous dashboard.

  • Lunias

    I'm liking the part where I don't have to worry about it until Dec. 25. That part's nice.

  • BigBlak

    It looks great, feels smooth and is a lot more inviting than the previous iterations. I hate the layout of Netflix and the fact that when you search for shows you can not pick an episode until you press play. Try it out yourself. It's only while searching.

    I also don't like the fact that it's designed around and probably much more efficient with Kinect.

  • BigBlak

    I just had a thought to use the Bing search that's in the Xbox and that solved my issue with finding individual episodes for Netflix.

  • lceman

    O.K. After spending a few weeks with this new update, I can say with confidence that I hate the damn thing. True to my original thinking- Microsoft excels at making the graphical interface worse and worse every time they update it.

    I thought the one before was bad, but this update makes the previous one look super intuitive. This new interface may be great with touch screens and portable devices, but it is horrible scrolling through everything and having the primary drivers of the console like games, XBLA, and Netflix "apps" that require way too much scrolling and clicking to get through.

    To top it off, we get a face-full of ads. Do I even have to rant about the irony of gold subscribers getting ads while silver (or offline) members don't? I know it's hard to please everybody, but would it be so much to ask if we could somehow customize the layout so that what we use frequently shows up on the first page after the console boots up? I don't use Netflix or Hulu+ or Twitter or Facebook on Xbox, so just give me the games tab upfront with the sales of the week and a quick link to ESPN. That's all I want. I know this is not what others want, so let us at least customize the front page.

    -M

    P.S.- Microsoft: Your market researchers and focus groups suck ass.

    • Smartguy

      Lol.

  • Smartguy

    I just downloaded this update about 10 mins ago on 1/7/2012. I have now spent about 3 minutes with it and dislike the update as a whole. Why in the hell is the badge to play the game on the game console not front and center?? This interface is fine for a more precise method of navigation like a mouse or touch screen but a controller sucks for this update.

    I agree with Iceman about the ads for Gold subscriptions. This is such a pain in the ass to see and deal with.

    As such, I will turn off my xbox permanently. My consoles are showing their age and I wouldn't use any machine that had a bad UI (or at least one that I couldn't customize to some degree). I like metro, but it doesn't need to be put on an old ass machine with a mediocre method of input.

    • http://rpad.tv raymond padilla

      I sense great anger within you.