Microsoft Releases Metro-themed Xbox 360 Dashboard Updateby Andrew Cunningham on December 6, 2011 12:20 PM EST
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.