Microsoft changes the Xbox menu system, adds avatars, and delivers Netflix – Is Microsoft’s E&D losing it’s touch?

I was actually surprised to see what Microsoft pulled out E3 and I’m not impressed. The big news is that Microsoft is planning a revamped menu system for the Xbox, avatars, delivering Netflix, 60GB Xbox 360, and a red and green controller. The only slightest interest I have is the Netflix deal, and the 60GB version. The other stuff makes me cringe. Here’s what I think.



The whole revamped menu system which some have called a mixture of "Flip3D/Aero/Cover-Flow/Mii" and a bunch of other crud. I’ve heard that many hardcore Xbox fans are rather disappointed with this. Many Xbox fans love the current Xbox 360 Dashboard "blade interface" and I know what they mean. Though as more features are added, the blade interface got a labyrinth of blades, buttons, options, menus, submenus, lists, settings, etc. Though I think they could have tweaked it instead of a whole overhaul.

People (Apple fanboys) of course jump over how the interface has that reflective, scroll-flowing look of Apple’s Cover Flow, but they should note that it’s NOT an Apple original. Apple bought it from someone in 2006. Either ways, I wouldn’t call it that much a copy of Cover Flow. The Xbox version has the selected piece at the very front, and extending continuously towards the back. And reflections are definitely not an Apple original, though Apple popularized it.

I’m not sure if I like it. It’s too early to tell. I have to see it in person to see if it actually works as well and swiftly, and it sort of like the Zune UI to me. Kind of. I just hope there’s an option to keep the current menu interface.


I really do not like the avatar idea. Many people have already voiced out that the avatars have a close resemblance to the Mii avatars on the Nintendo Wii. Does this show Microsoft’s desperation to attract Wii users? Sorry, MS, but that’s the wrong approach to go. You already have a strong user fanbase, and trying to go for the casual-gamer/kiddie type by making big changes on the Xbox platform for these people, don’t make the fanbase happy. There’s a reason why the Wii attracts people, and there’s a reason why the Xbox 360 and PS3 attract different people.

Wii’s are meant for almost everybody like the casual-gamer type, or kiddies, while the Xbox 360 and PS3 attract more hardcore gamers. If you want both, you have to find the right balance, which probably means something very sleek and nice looking. The new Xbox look is leaning too far towards the Wii.

Anyways, while the avatar does look a whole lot like the Miis, they at least have a step more of realism. The faces seem more different, as well as the hairstyles and clothing choices. But why stop there?

If Microsoft wanted to do avatars, why not go the extra mile and make very realistic-looking versions of ourselves? An extra high-quality graphics touch would be the bomb. I’m thinking along the lines of the PlayStation Home. Not something as kiddie as quirky avatars. If you can’t, then let the Wii and PS3 have it. Microsoft, why don’t you guys do things right the first time?

Also, do these integrate with your Live ID account? Could you their headshots as display pictures? Or your Zune Social Card? Integration is everything these days.


Netflix works on the Xbox, but you need a gold subscription (and that means you need both a Gold account AND a Netflix account). Also, Netflix doesn’t have a lot of digital video content that’s all current, or HD. But it’s at least an official option, rather than 3rd party support through Media Center Extenders. I’m also wishing (and hoping) that content you purchase from Netflix on the 360 works as well on a Zune. If not, then Microsoft has some serious hurdles to combine their media devices.

60GB version sounds good. It provides just enough storage for a typical user.


There’s also a red and green controller, but I think they look seriously hideous. Is Microsoft color-blind? The green could have been a darker shade, or have more of a shinier look maybe? And the red is ok. I guess. It’d probably match very well with the Red Zune 30 (watermelon!). Which makes me wonder, why not release red and green controllers during the Christmas season? Releasing it now, would be like having Christmas in July. :^)

I just hope the new updates aren’t as bad as they look.


5 thoughts on “Microsoft changes the Xbox menu system, adds avatars, and delivers Netflix – Is Microsoft’s E&D losing it’s touch?

  1. Actually, the response I\’m getting from the videos I uploaded to YouTube are very positive. There is something Microsoft learned from the Wii, which continues to perform absolutely stunningly in sales (because of price and aesthetics, trust me, I would prefer an Xbox, but people are falling for the Wii) and so making the Xbox UI more user-appealing and aesthetic, along with adding additional social qualities, like the 1 vs. 100 game, which I would probably buy an Xbox just to play that, is what makes the Xbox 360 even more ahead in the "connected" and "social" marks. Xbox has the power for the hardcore users, and now it\’s making more appealing for the people who are going for the Wii, which is very smart. Plus, J Allard knows what he\’s doing, he\’s been brilliant before, and there\’s no doubt this will be another of his successes.

  2. I\’m with you on this one. I had to gag when I saw the new interface. Overall I might have been able to get used to it, but those ugly cartoon avatars just killed it. The styling looks so toyish, while the 360 is completely opposite of that. Blades was so much more unique and stylish.
    But that 60 GB sounds really good.

  3. I\’ve seen mixed responses from other people as well. I\’ll reserve my judgment until I see it in action. Actually, the interfact isn\’t that bad, but it\’s just the avatars that got me. Wii Mii\’s look like silly paper dolls, Xbox avatars come next looking like bobbleheads, and then the PlayStation Home owns it all with life realistic avatars.
    Just my opinion, but I favor the realistic PS3 avatars, compared to the Wii\’s kiddie look, and the Xbox\’s bobblehead look.

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