Xbox LIVE's Major Nelson and co. have confirmed that today marks the beginning of the latest Dashboard update roll out. Whilst the switch has been flipped on LIVE servers around the world, the update could take 'a few days' to propagate out in full.
Whilst you eagerly await being kicked from Xbox LIVE at the most inopportune moment (usually), get stuck in to the full and comprehensive change log below:
Refreshed Xbox 360 Dashboard. We’ve updated the UI with a few things, including an updated layout with more tiles, a combined TV & Movies channel and, in the US, a Sports destination.
Internet Explorer for Xbox. With Internet Explorer on Xbox, you can easily find and view internet content on the biggest screen in the house, including HTML5 videos.
Recommendations and Ratings. Recommendations will allow you to discover new favorites, generated based on a number of variables including the content you previously viewed, what your friends are consuming and what is most relevant and popular with our Xbox community. You can now rate content yourself and also see Rotten Tomatoes ratings.
Pinning. Pinning lets you personalize the dashboard by saving your favorite movies, TV shows, games, music, videos and websites right to the home screen. It’s as easy as opening an app or a favorite movie and clicking “pin.”
Xbox Video. Formerly called Zune Video Marketplace, Xbox Video offers hundreds of thousands of TV shows and movies for buying or renting in instant HD streaming.
Recent. Previously called Quick Play, the Recent view gives you a list of movies, games, apps or other types of content that you most recently accessed on the console.
Enhanced Search. The last Xbox LIVE update brought Bing voice search to Xbox so you could use voice to search for movies, TV shows, actors, directors and artists. This year we added genre search to the list, so now you can search for action, comedy, romance, drama or sci-fi. Bing voice search now includes results for video across the Web, including YouTube.
International Expansion of Voice Search. We’ve expanded our Kinect voice search capabilities to 9 new countries – Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Ireland.
It's a useful list of changes. Not exciting perhaps, but functional. Many will be pleased to see Internet Explorer finally arrive on the console. Me? I'm skeptical and I'll be sure to remind you as such should I have to write an article regarding an Xbox 360 exploit/security breach following on the back of this. However, my personal opinions aside, some of you may be wondering where Smart Glass
is. It's coming soon alongside the official retail launch of Windows 8 on October 26th.
Xbox Music is included in this update too. This service is essentially the long overdue death of the ill-fated Zune service. Xbox Music will launch with "free streaming on all Windows 8 PCs and tablets and Windows Phone 8". Acknowledging that they were playing catch-up with Apple, Microsoft said that Xbox Music would be 'on par with iTunes' (why dream bigger when you can aim for adequate?).
Here are the key Xbox Music facts in a nutshell:
Free streaming music on Windows 8 and Windows RT. Enjoy on-demand access to tens of millions of songs for free on all Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets and PCs. Discovering and enjoying free music on Windows 8 and Windows RT is as easy as typing an artist or song name and hitting “play” — songs are instantly available to stream and for you to create an unlimited amount of playlists.
Limited hours of free streaming after 6 months; unlimited with paid subscription.
Xbox Music Pass Want unlimited access to the songs and artists you care about, including offline access? Get an Xbox Music Pass for ad-free, unlimited playback of any track in our subscription catalogue across your tablet, PC, phone and Xbox 3601 for £8.99 per month. (Estimated) Xbox Music Pass also unlocks unlimited access to tens of thousands of music videos on your Xbox 360.
Xbox Music Store Want to own the music you love? The Xbox Music Store is a comprehensive MP3 marketplace giving you the opportunity to purchase a single track or entire album on your Windows 8 or Windows RT tablet or PC and Windows Phone 8.
Smart DJ Creating a new form of artist-based radio, the Smart DJ feature is a quick and dynamic way to personalise your collection, discover new favourites and create ultimate playlists by launching instant mixes based on your favourite artists. With unlimited skips and a view of the full recommended music stream, Smart DJ puts you in control of your Internet radio experience.
Cloud Storage Available in the coming year, a scan-and-match feature will take you beyond the 30 million tracks globally offered through Xbox Music. It will add all the music you own to your Xbox Music cloud catalogue, including music acquired through other services. This means you can add almost any content you have to your personal Xbox Music collection, even if it’s not available in the Xbox Music catalogue.
Social Music Xbox Music will add unique social features in the coming year that let you share your music experiences with friends and family.
Platform Expansion Xbox Music will become available on other platforms in the coming year.
If you see the Dashboard update hit your console we'd love to hear from you in the comments. Let us know if the process was plain sailing, or whether there were any issues. We'd love to hear your impressions on the new experience too, so feel free to sound off when you receive your shiny new Dash!