Microsoft’s annual tradition of allowing people to sign up to the Xbox Live dashboard preview has come and gone. Major Nelson made the announcement on his blog.
Fancy using the next version of the Xbox Live dashboard? Probably not, and I don’t blame you
The latest version of the Xbox Live dashboard for Xbox 360 is, well, a mess. Clearly Microsoft wants to unify its products through the Metro design, but when the design is filled with ads moving the focus away from the content – playing games, despite media apps being more popular – then why am I going to use other content? The next, and probably, final iteration for this generation was available for preview.
Users wanting to beta test could sign up at Microsoft Connect and agree to a non-disclosure (NDA) agreement. When I was in last year’s Xbox Live dashboard update, I swear people were posting on forums about the dashboard. And even if they can’t write about/record video/take pictures of the dashboard, they’ll talk to friends.
I also couldn’t use party chat with non-beta testers in 2011, though this year’s version doesn’t seem to have the problem. What is new, though, is Internet Explorer – a much requested feature -, new languages for Bing Search, and enhanced discovery and category search features. Search is a big problem in the current version of the dashboard, requiring an unnecessary amount of button clicks. Also, categories such as Indie Games should be removed because Microsoft barely has commitment. I doubt casual consumers, those buying the console for Kinect, even know of Indie Games’ existence.
Nothing To Shout About
There will also be personalized recommendations on the dashboard, though it’s unclear if it’s in the form of ads or content users can buy and/or download. Participants are also asked to complete a survey when it finishes.
The sign-up procedure basically works by link your console’s unique ID, downloading the dashboard to the specific console. The registration period probably closed quickly because Microsoft is only looking for a specific number, but don’t worry if you didn’t get in. The major update won’t arrive until the next-generation Xbox, probably.
Hopefully we’ll see the Xbox dashboard’s design team taking note of Metro in Windows 8 – it looks more user friendly.