Last week, Microsoft sent out a call to arms to help “beta” test their new dashboard update. This update includes the integration of Facebook, Twitter, last.fm, and Zune media.
If you were part of the lucky few that were accepted into the Preview Program, then you received your updates late Thursday evening or early Friday morning. A number of community members have joined in on the fun, but this is a preview review to help those of you without the update cope with your jealous rage.
Twitter – The twitter program appears to function exactly like the website interface. I did not have an account before hand, but you can make one through the website first and then sign in on your dashboard. The interface to play with your ‘tweets’ and view other ‘tweets’ is very smooth. You can see a lot of information in one screen without much scroll work or button pushing.
Facebook – Unlike the Twitter interface, Facebook’s interface feels dated. You navigate through Facebook’s news feeds, photos, and friends in a nearly identical fashion as navigating through Netflix. Where Twitter is able to present a lot of information in an eloquent fashion, Facebook’s presentation feels dated and cumbersome. Hopefully the folks at Facebook can take this program and make it their own.
Zune Marketplace – The Zune Marketplace is Microsoft’s answer to purchasing HD movies and television shows. This could be the new direction the video marketplace is going towards. There is a large selection to choose from, but everything is a bit pricey. My favorite example is an episode of Red vs. Blue that lasts under 3 minutes is worth 120 Microsoft points.
Last.fm – Saving the best feature for last is last.fm. Last.fm is an internet radio streaming program that can operate in a similar fashion to the popular Pandora. You can create an account on the fly and scrobbling through their music collection within moments. A nice introduction into the program, especially for someone who enjoy those video game soundtracks, is how cram packed with video game soundtrack options last.fm came with.
The only drawback from all program is the lack of cross-game communications. It would be wonderful to stream music during those Halo matches and receive pop-up notifications for friend comments. Microsoft has presented a strong foundation to build upon and become integrated with social networking. Perhaps in the future you can capture your latest pwnage screenshot and upload it into Facebook with the push of a button. The potential is there, hopefully Microsoft helps it evolve in the right direction.
For those of you lucky enough to be part of the preview, how are you enjoying it so far?