Being an avid gamer and having a strong interest in multimedia interface design it was of great curiosity that Microsoft were providing a downloadable overhaul of their Xbox 360 ?dashboard? via their Xbox Live service. The Xbox Experience, as it?s known, uses a friendlier and more visual approach to organise gamer profiles, downloaded content, music, videos and all-new Xbox live content. Mirroring the design transition between MS Windows XP to Vista, the all-new shiny interface looks and feels great, with cascading windows creating a spacious and methodical atmosphere. The new addition of a customisable avatar (Microsoft?s attempt at chipping away at Nintendo?s market share ? Mii anyone?) to personalise your experience is also very much welcome…

However, design aesthetics aside, in practice it?s a very different story? It just goes to show, sometimes there is no substitute for a simple option menu that allows you to navigate intuitively. In its visually appealing simplification, the new navigation suffers from having options heavily segregated in an attempt to make the experience more digestible and effortless. In reality, while it moves and looks great ? it can be a real trial to find what you?re looking for!

Luckily, XBE is saved somewhat by a quick access mini dialog-box that allows you to jump to what you?re looking for with minimal hastle (just like the old 360 interface then?).

With the gaming press is STILL awaiting Sony?s ?Home? for PS3 to be completed, XBE is a welcome supplement. In short, a nice renovation of a tired interface ? with traits of Vista, Wii and Apple’s Leopard OS ?  a change for the better?it just might take a little getting used to. The ‘form before function’ debate continues.

Check out the official website to see examples of it in action.
(Opinion: Jon Price ? Designer)

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