As more screenshots and information about the new Xbox Live Fall Update have been trickling onto the internet, one begins to wonder what direction, exactly Microsoft wants to take their flagship consumer product. New features like the ESPN channel seem odd while others, like iimproved functionality for Netflix, are welcome additions. Most puzzling however, are the new look of the main dashboard interface.
Engadget has some good images of what the new dashboard will look like and some of the design choices seem, frankly a little strange. Only three panels are now fully visible as opposed the current dashboard which shows up to six panels cascading into the background. This simplified interface is no doubt intended to make using Microsoft’s soon to be released motion controller, Kinect, easier. The Kinect controller will allow users to manipulate the menus using hand gestures in the air.
The question arises, why is Microsoft overhauling the entire dashboard to accommodate a product that the majority of Xbox owners are completely indifferent to? Xbox’s user base of hardcore gamers think Kinect is a joke. Yet Microsoft seems to be placing a lot chips on the bet that Kinect will gain them significant market share with the coveted “casual gamer.” Do they risk alienating their established audience? Do they even care?
Honestly chances are that most gamers won’t blink an eye at the new dashboard look as long as their machine still plays the games they love. It’s just kind of sad to see them scrambling at this late stage to try and capture a demographic that they don’t even really need.
Kinect goes on sale in November, the Xbox Live Fall Update rolls out shortly before that.