On Oct 16, three million Xbox consoles were hit by software updates from Microsoft. The roll-out is going to be released in waves over the next two weeks to ensure a stable release of the update. For all you Xbox-loving console fans, here’s a lowdown of the good and bad in your updated Xbox:
Good: Layout is updated with more tiles. What were formerly referred to as Metro-style UI live tiles, instead of being arranged in a rotating carousel, can now all be seen simultaneously.
Bad: The idea was to simplify the layout; however, Engadget bluntly calls it a “marketing mess.” The problem is that a lot of the tiles are now dedicated to useless advertisements, which defeats the purpose of a simplified layout.
Good: Xbox now comes with the browser—surprise, surprise—Internet Explorer. View Internet content, including HTML5 videos, on your TV.
Bad: Xbox now comes with the browser—surprise, surprise—Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, some users have found IE to be—surprise, surprise again—a bit slow on the uptake, stuttering its way as pages are downloaded and lacking essential plug-ins. There’s also no bookmark importing tool, so you’ll have to get used to the slow experience. Lastly, there’s no web filtering tool for blocking adult material in case you’re getting an Xbox for your kids. However, you have the option to completely block access to IE for child accounts.
Recommendations and Ratings
Good: Rate content or discover new games. The Xbox makes recommendations based on what you previously viewed and what is popular with your Xbox community. Recommendations can be rated out of five stars. You can also dismiss them or pin them.
Bad: Some recommendations are way off target.
Good: Personalize your dashboard by “pinning” or saving your favorite TV shows, games, videos, websites, and movies in “My Pins.” Simply open an app or item and click “pin.”
Bad:Engadget laments that while pins are saved to a My Pins sub menu, they aren’t in any of “the Xbox’s tile-laden channels.”
Good: Renamed from Zune Video Marketplace, Xbox Video lets you rent or buy hundreds of thousands of movies and TV shows for instant HD streaming.
Bad: No Blu-Ray. Some gamers are complaining over this, and it’s understandable even if we do live in the age of the cloud. While it’s true that digital downloads are replacing optical discs, the reality is that not the whole world is plugged into high-speed bandwidth. This time, it seems that Microsoft is a little bit too forward-thinking for its own good. But yeah, you can always get a PS3 as a Blu-Ray player.
Other features of the updated Xbox are Recent (gives you a list of your most recently accessed content), Enhanced Search (use voice to search), cloud storage (add content to your Xbox Music collection), Smart DJ (personalize your music collection), Xbox Music Pass (unlimited and offline access to music you love), and Xbox Music Store (purchase music). All in all, it still seems that the Xbox 360 is so far living up to its vision of becoming the entertainment hub for your home. When the Smartglass app launches on October 26, you can bet that the Xbox will be the console to beat.