The Xbox 360’s Fall Update

October 28, 2009

Ok, no better place to start than with a review of a console’s dashboard framework. And boy is this one going to be a mess. I managed to get myself into the update preview test group and “not impressed” is the nicest way I can describe the mess they’ve made of things. Microsoft has added an inadequate Facebook app, twitter, last.fm, MSN.com news, and the Zune marketplace.

I don’t use twitter, because I’m not interested in minute by minute updates on the lives of others. I’ve seen what it does and how it works online, but I’m unable to comment on it’s 360 counterpart.

The Facebook app HAD potential, but they thinned down the experience to the point that it’s become little more than another form of twitter. You can post status updates and read the updates of your friends, as well as view and comment on pictures of your friends… and that’s about it. There is no game support for you would-be farmers or mobsters out there. You can’t even post notes to your profile. I was unable to even view the group posts from my Halo clan’s group page. That may have something to do with the fact that our group was made private/hidden due to it’s name: TNT or Tea and Tacos. If you play fps games today I’m sure that name needs no explanation.

Last.fm is a nice addition, especially if you’re like me and listen to a genre of music that isn’t represented on your local radio stations. Living in Kansas it’s damn near impossible to hear or buy any new industrial/electronic music. And no, you can’t even find any in Wichita’s local cd stores. The only problem I have with the Last.fm app is that I have a hard time justifying the electric costs of simply listening to music and viewing band pictures on my massive 65″ projection tv. The Last.fm app isn’t something you can run in the background while you’re playing games, so don’t go putting away your mp3 players just yet. Oh, and as a side note, be warned. Depending on what band you happen to be listening to, not all of the pictures you’ll see are safe for children. I saw blood, gore, WW2 pics, and pics from a live concert/S&M show. The last group was DEFINITELY NOT child safe.

The MSN.com news feed is ok if you’re looking to take a break from gaming to catch up on what’s going on in the world beyond your couch. They also have Dilbert animated cartoons and political cartoons from the New Yorker. I didn’t even realize Dilbert was still being made! It was lame and out of touch with reality from it’s inception, so I had just assumed that the artist would have lost his funding YEARS ago. They’re no funnier animated than they were in print, so don’t bother wasting your time.

But the Zune marketplace addition is what really gets me. Why would Microsoft think their gaming community would still be interested in paying for video content on a console that already has support for Netflix’s fast and high quality digital streaming greatness? Doesn’t Microsoft have enough of our money as it is? The part of this disaster that makes me mad is that they integrated the Zune marketplace into our console’s video library section. So now, if you want to view a game video that you’ve already downloaded to your console, you have to wade through a vast pool of uninteresting pay per view filth in order to see it. Now let’s say you’re currently downloading several new videos of potentially great upcoming games like Metro 2033, Assassins Creed 2, and Mass Effect 2. Due to your excitement you click over to your video library so you can view these teaser trailers just as soon as they’ve downloaded. Unfortunately you’ll now have to back out and re-enter your video library each and every time a new video’s download completes because the system won’t recognize it’s there if you don’t. And you’ll have to wait as the app finds your newly downloaded content, because all of the Zune marketplace garbage takes precedence over the things you’re actually interested in seeing. What a lousy addition to an otherwise excellent console.

I put up with the direct marketing on my dashboard, that I’m forced to see every time I turn on the console, because it’s occasionally interesting. But this time they’ve gone too far.

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4 Responses to “The Xbox 360’s Fall Update”

  1. NmcS said

    More Ads?! “This doesn’t seem physically possible!”

  2. Heather said

    Welcome to the blogosphere, as the kids are calling it these days! Lookin’ forward to reading more!

  3. XBOX said

    I cant wait to read your next post. Nice post.. I will be watching! XBOX LIVE Forever!

  4. E74 Error said

    Nice website, I was doing a little net snooping and happened onto your website, I used to be pondering if you knew your blog is rendering strangely in the K-mellon internet browser. I will see most of it but the pictures are somehow out of wallop. In all probability not a massive deal since hardly nobody uses it anymore however I am old school and still use it.

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