At some point today, Microsoft will issue an update for the Xbox 360 that will roll out the latest set of changes to its gaming console, most prominently a new visual theme styled after the Metro interface on display in Windows Phone 7 and the Windows 8 Developer Preview. This is the first major interface change the system has seen since 2008's "New Xbox Experience" update, which itself replaced the older "blade" interface that shipped with the console. 

In addition to the interface update, smaller, less visible changes abound: Kinect voice control allows you to navigate the console and most of its apps. Bing integration will search the console, the marketplace, and even apps for games, music, video, and other content. Beacons let you see what your friends want to play on the console and on Facebook, theoretically facilitating multiplayer matchmaking (you'll be able to share Achievements to Facebook as well). Xbox Live gamertags, profiles, and game saves are now also saveable to the cloud (which gives you about 512MB of storage space), allowing you to access this data from any Xbox 360 you sign in to. A number of TV networks will be bringing their content to the 360 (though, as with ESPN's launch earlier this year, what is and isn't available will depend on a number of different conditions, including your ISP's support). The list, which also includes some 3D support and Skype integration, goes on.

Especially given that the Xbox just turned six years old, this is a surprisingly thorough and far-reaching software update, and it emphasizes Microsoft's strength and experience as a software company (despite their hardware's teething issues). It should be available to all Xbox 360 owners soon, if it isn't already.

Source: Microsoft

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  • mepenete - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - link

    Always dug the metro interface since I tried the first iterations on Zune. Glad to see it's becoming a standard with Microsoft. Definitely one of the more elegant and intuitive interfaces out there (although the tiles on WP7 are regrettably ugly).
  • MGSsancho - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - link

    I have to agree. But it is weird, the original zunes and the zund HD was the best IMO. but the new windows phone 7, i dunno it is just so different I like it. I feel that vaity is the spic of life. granted working from solaris to linux to osx to win7 has its pros and cons... but I have to applaud Microsoft for always trying something new. at least microsoft eats its own dogfood in the regards that they usually go gun-ho on things. Also We must love to see companies that 6 years later still put resources into products.
  • Exodite - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - link

    For a huge display, such as a TV, using a clunky navigation system, such as a controller, it makes sense.

    I'm just not at all sold upon the interface when it comes to an actual computer.

    Of course I personally dislike the style in its entirety but disregarding that it's quite functional for the XBOX.
  • augiem - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    For a huge display like a TV, it's still to oversized and cludgy, but better than the previous version with like 3 items per page. Most people are on HD. Why can't they give you more than 8 tiles per screen? Even with a remote control or xbox controller, it's easy to pick through more options than that. Someone at microsoft has serious vision problems and wants everything scaled 4x. Example: now they changed the installed game picking page from a vertical text list to a single scrolling row of gigantic tiles (maybe 5 per screen). I've got about 30 demos installed on a 60gb drive and it's already a pain to scroll through all those giganto tiles to find one, imagine people with 250GB drives.

    Metro at its core is very short sighted. Every iteration I've ever used (WP7, Xbox, Win8 preview) has the same very basic fundamental problem -- it cannot handle large volumes of content. The design seems to be based on the premise that people will never want to do that much on their PC/phone/game system, therefore it's optimized to a small number of tiles. But as Apple had to admit with iOS and the addition of folders, people DO want to install hundreds of things on their phone/pc/system.
  • Arsynic - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - link

    What kind of shit is this? I pay $60 a year and I only get 512 MB, yet a free Sky Drive account allows me 2 GB.

    Xbox Live subscribers definitely have Stockholm syndrome.
  • FITCamaro - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - link

    There's a lot more users of Xbox Live than Sky Drive. But how much save game space do you need?
  • Alexvrb - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    If you hop from console to console like I often do (play at a friends house and want to actually KEEP your achievements etc), the main advantage is being able to store your profile in the cloud. No more Account Recovery, no memory stick needed.

    But yes, 500MB is a good start and will typically hold quite a few saved games. They could certainly expand it later, uh, maybe after HDD prices come back down to earth. :)
  • ZPrime - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - link

    If you're paying $60/year, you're doing it wrong. 1yr cards routinely go on ebay for $40 or less.

    Also, game saves generally don't take up all that much space. There are some exceptions (I hear Skyrim saves are big), but most are a few MB. Honestly, given the speed of most home internet connections on the upload side, you don't WANT to try to put super-massive stuff into the cloud.

    Not saying that this makes any sense WRT their size - 512MB is a bit of a joke when I can put a 16 GB USB stick in there... but for all we know they may increase the space down the road anyway. I am already using a USB drive for my profile and saves (I have 3 xboxen in my house and need portability), but this is kind of a neat idea I suppose.
  • artemicion - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - link

    if you're paying $60 per year for xbox live and the only benefit you derive from it is online save game space, you are a fool.
  • retrospooty - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - link

    "if you're paying $60 per year for xbox live and the only benefit you derive from it is online save game space, you are a fool"

    Exactly. The price is for online gaming. The new 512mb is just a value added. Not something you'd pay for by itself. Its nice to have it for those of us that already have a live account.

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