Last Monday Microsoft unleashed their 2010 Fall Update on Xbox Live subscribers. A few people who had been following the update’s development knew what to expect. Many others apparently did not, and if the buzz on various discussion forums is any indication, they are none too pleased with the changes the update made to the dashboard.
The new dashboard design is very clean, almost to the point of being sterile. It’s all straight edges and simple, bland color schemes. You could say that it’s a sleeker, more streamlined interface. Or you could say that the Xbox’s interface looks less like a high-end piece of technology and more like a children’s toy. That’s exactly what people are saying in this thread on the official Xbox forums. They’re saying a whole lot more than that too. As of right now there are over four pages of complaints ranging from dissatisfaction with the “family friendly” direction Microsoft seems to be taking to the abundance of white on the new dashboard blinding users with it’s brightness.
Some of the complaints seem a little reactionary. Yes, Microsoft has changed their image a little in the wake of the big Kinect Release. They are courting the “casual gamer” market that, up until now, they’ve had trouble breaking into. In order to do this they are trying to simplify the interface for soccer moms and younger gamers. In the end this really doesn’t affect the “hard core” gamer. Mature games will still be produced for the Xbox and the machine will still play them. There is nothing wrong with Microsoft attempting to make their product appeal to more consumers.
Other complaints have slightly more merit. Admittedly there is a lot of white in the new dashboard and it makes for a fairly bright screen. Arguments of screen burn-in and bulb-life aside it’s just sort of plain and ugly. Mixed with the new Xbox green swirl it makes for a hideous color combination. One wonders if when Microsoft was testing the new dashboard, exactly who they showed it to and if they listened to anything the focus groups had to say about it.
A full, hand-on review of the new dashboard functionality is forthcoming.