For those who have no interest in video games, this post possibly will be the most boring thing possible.
Microsoft will be releasing a system update come November 19th which will (supposedly) “a transformation in home entertainment.” The brand new features in the update will include:
User Interface changes
- Completely redesiged GUI (Similar to Windows Media Center).
- New pop-up/in-game Live Guide, using a redesigned version of the blades interface
- New sound effects
- Ability to preview your own themes before setting them.
- Support for 1440×900 and 1680×1050, 16:10 resolutions over VGA and HDMI (when using DVI)
Xbox Live changes
- Xbox Live Party
- 8 person chat and image sharing
- Fully customisable Avatars.
- Fully customise a character for use in upcoming games and on Xbox Live
- Access Xbox Live Marketplace on a PC via Xbox.com
- Ability to watch Netflix movies on your Xbox 360. (You must be a Gold Xbox Live member, and a Netflix Subscriber; Date TBD)
- Option to install games to hard drive in order to decrease load times and to make the hardware quieter.
- Similar to PC games, the disc needs to be inserted in the console to load.
- Information from Xbox Live regarding the game in your disc tray.
- Quick Launch for launching games on your console
Now nothing in the list particular in this list of updates is particular worth the hype with the exception of Netflix and XboxLive Primetime (the latter being delayed till Spring). Unfortunately for those who are outside of the United States, once again the experience that is touted as being a spectacle is one that cannot be experienced.
Now this wouldn’t be a problem if the Xbox Marketplace was decent. Unfortunately most regions that do have a Video Marketplace have a slim selection to choose from and content that disappears pretty quickly from the servers every couple of months leaving only a small amount of content available at a time.
What I would have preferred is if Xbox focused on features that would be available to ALL regions. Meaning, if digital distribution is the goal, then that means you must be committed to and plan prior to accomplish that goal in a way that works on all consoles. Currently, Microsoft’s stance is “US is most important because that were the majority of our customers are… therefore we have to make sure their Marketplace is top notch. We’ll get to the other regions once its done.” Which makes sense… of course if the plan is to make sure that resources do eventually go to the creation of the other marketplaces, using the US one as the template. By developing the US Marketplace and using it as a press point when explaining the advantages of the 360, it must be made sure that the quality of the marketplace is consistent or its just doubletalk. So we have Microsoft loading up and making an impressive Marketplace:
“Now we can focus on other regions… oh lets make a deal with Netflix. Man Netflix is a GREAT new feature for the NXE – one that makes the Xbox a great entertainment centre. Whoops its not our fault that they are US only… Well the NXE is still a great new set-up….. NETFLIX STREAMING!!!! US ONLY.”
Extremely shortsighted. Might as well put in a BlueRay Player… its a feature that EVERYONE would be able to use.
“Lastly, there are more infrastructure requirements you need to have in place to do international well and we felt it better to get everything straight in the US before we add complexity with other markets and languages. – (Sticky on Xbox.Com Forum ~Video Marketplace and International Markets~)”
With Netflix deal done… are you straight now Microsoft? Are you read to work on the international markets now? I wouldn’t be surprised if NXE Primetime only works in US as well.