Microsoft announced on Thursday that it has started to push out a beta preview of the new Xbox 360 dashboard.
The beta preview gives testers access to a whole range of new features in Microsoft’s Xbox 360 dashboard. Microsoft started accepting nominations for the Xbox dashboard beta last month. The software maker closed registrations after just 24 hours due to popular demand. The newly designed dashboard will offer the following features:
- New Xbox LIVE Dashboard with integrated voice and gesture controls - We’ve updated the dashboard, making it easier to navigate through content, whether you use Kinect or a controller. Use voice and gesture controls to float through the menu and select games, movies, music and applications.
- Beacons – Beacons allow you to tell your Xbox LIVE and Facebook friends that you want to play a game on Xbox LIVE, making it easier to jump in and play together. By setting a Beacon, you tell Xbox LIVE what you want to play. Then, Xbox LIVE lets you know when friends are playing or want to play the same game.
- Facebook Sharing – With Facebook Sharing, now it is easier than ever to brag about all your achievements to your social network. With the integrated “share” feature, you can tout your achievements and showcase your in-game accomplishments through instant, direct posts.
- Roaming Profile – With new roaming profiles you can now bring your complete Xbox LIVE® profile to any Xbox 360®, including game saves, friend lists and your Gold membership, to your friend’s house for more fun.
Codenamed “Madrid”, the November dashboard update will bring Microsoft’s Metro style interface to the Xbox. Microsoft is also preparing to include YouTube and Bing on the Xbox. Bing users will be able to use Kinect’s voice recognition feature to search for movies, music and other content on their consoles. Microsoft is also planning to include some type of Marketplace with applications for Xbox 360. The new dashboard will enable Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone integration with Xbox, see a video demonstration here.
Microsoft will also introduce an Xbox LIVE TV service as part of its dashboard update. The company announced deals with nearly 40 content providers recently. Bravo, Comcast, HBO GO and Syfy are amongst a number of TV providers for U.S. Xbox owners. The BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are partnering with Microsoft in the UK to offer programming on the Xbox 360. Xbox users will need the latest dashboard update, due in November, to experience live TV with Xbox LIVE. Microsoft is planning to make the TV channels available to Xbox LIVE gold subscribers and some partners will integrate Kinect experiences with their TV channels. Microsoft’s TV service is powered by the company’s Silverlight software.