Microsoft will be launching the latest version of the Xbox 360 dashboard today, bringing with it Kinect support and Bing search integration. It’s thought that this update is designed to make the Xbox more of a central piece of technology, handling music, movies, online search, gaming and social networking all in one place.
“The content that you want, and then you consume it the way you want to, from whichever provider,” said Pawan Bhardwaj, UK product manager for Xbox Live.
This overhaul is thought to look different too, utilising a Windows Phone 7 style interface. This will be a welcome change to those that still feel encumbered by some of the Xbox 360’s older UI stylings. However, there will be a couple changes people might not be such fans of.
“What there will be is advertising in the search results, so maybe the fourth or fifth one down would be an advert for something, hopefully, relatively related to the content you’ve searched for,” continued Bhardwaj. “Or it could just be this film is showing at the cinema, so if it’s a sci-fi film and you’ve looked for sci-fi content it may tag it that way.”
Apparently this doesn’t equate to sponsored results, instead there will be related adverts, but that’s different, apparently.
“We wouldn’t move people’s content, because it doesn’t give the consumer a lot of confidence.”
Apps will also be making an appearance, with specific ones from Youtube, Sky and Zune to be added right off the bat. Microsoft is thought to be working with the BBC to deliver an iPlayer one within a relatively short time. When asked about the sort of apps that would be allowed on the XBox, Bhardwaj said, “It’s about quality and you as a consumer, what do you want to consume?” He later explained how Microsoft was keeping strict control over its app marketplace, meaning there wouldn’t be any ripoff or superfluous applications appearing.
The big changes for gamers will involve the ability to save games to the Cloud, meaning if your hard drive was somehow wiped, you could still retrieve your saved games. Microsoft has also added the “Beacon” ability, which lets you share scores and times on Facebook, as well as letting your social pals know if you want a game or not.