Microsoft has been making noteworthy efforts to boost its Xbox 360 sales this year. The company finally decided to lower the price of its 7-year old console to $250 this holiday season, then came the announcement for Xbox Music
and now it's time for the much awaited dashboard update, that we first heard about at E3 this year.
Microsoft has begun rolling out the official release
of the update for Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers worldwide. Since it's a gradual release, it is expected to reach all subscribers only by next month.
The update clubs various entertainment and web services together, which means it's not just about the games anymore. The most noticeable feature is the integration of Internet Explorer
, news of which first got out in June. So what does the update offer in totality?
First up is the dashboard, which gets an updated user interface to include a different layout with more tiles, a combined TV & Movies channel and a Sports destination for US subscribers.
You can now also customise the dashboard by pinning your favourite movies, TV shows, games, music, videos and websites right to the home screen. A new Recent view gives you a list of movies, games, apps or other types of content that you most recently accessed on the console. This was earlier identified as Quick Play.
Xbox Video replaces the Zune Video Marketplace to offer a variety of TV shows and movies for buying or renting in instant HD streaming.
Another feature is Recommendations that will allow you to find content based on factors such as the content you previously viewed, what your friends are consuming and other relevant and popular trends within the Xbox community. It also allows you to personally rate content and even view ratings from Rotten Tomatoes.
With Internet Explorer on Xbox, you can now easily find and view web content on your screens. It also supports HTML5 videos.
The last Xbox LIVE update brought Bing voice search to Xbox so you could search for movies, TV shows, actors, directors and artists using your voice. Microsoft has gone a step further to now add category search to the list, so now you can search for action, comedy, romance, drama or sci-fi. Bing voice search now also includes results for videos across the Web, including YouTube.
What's more, the Kinect voice search feature has now been expanded to 9 new countries - Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Ireland.
Remember Xbox SmartGlass
that debuted at E3 this year? Well, that's not a part of this update but it will launch with the upcoming release of Windows 8
on October 26. As a quick recap, Xbox SmartGlass will allow Xbox 360 users to stream and share content across smartphones, tablets and TVs.