Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb annouced on his blog late last night (late for us CST people) that the new Xbox Dashboard update will start to roll across Xbox accounts today. Your account could update today, it could update by the end of the week. To ensure stability across Xbox Live access and the new Dashboard itself, they're trickling out the update instead of slamming it all at once.
The update will include the following new features:
Refreshed Xbox 360 Dashboard. We’ve updated the UI with a few things, including an updated layout with more tiles, a combined TV & Movies channel and, in the US, a Sports destination.
Internet Explorer for Xbox. With Internet Explorer on Xbox, you can easily find and view internet content on the biggest screen in the house, including HTML5 videos.
Recommendations and Ratings. Recommendations will allow you to discover new favorites, generated based on a number of variables including the content you previously viewed, what your friends are consuming and what is most relevant and popular with our Xbox community. You can now rate content yourself and also see Rotten Tomatoes ratings.
Pinning. Pinning lets you personalize the dashboard by saving your favorite movies, TV shows, games, music, videos and websites right to the home screen. It’s as easy as opening an app or a favorite movie and clicking “pin.”
Xbox Video. Formerly called Zune Video Marketplace, Xbox Video offers hundreds of thousands of TV shows and movies for buying or renting in instant HD streaming.
Recent. Previously called Quick Play, the Recent view gives you a list of movies, games, apps or other types of content that you most recently accessed on the console.
Enhanced Search. The last Xbox LIVE update brought Bing voice search to Xbox so you could use voice to search for movies, TV shows, actors, directors and artists. This year we added genre search to the list, so now you can search for action, comedy, romance, drama or sci-fi. Bing voice search now includes results for video across the Web, including YouTube.
International Expansion of Voice Search. We’ve expanded our Kinect voice search capabilities to 9 new countries – Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Ireland.
I'm liking the idea of the Recent feature and the ability to pin favorites to the dashboard, but I have to laugh at the inclusion of Internet Explorer. Since I only use IE on my PC to download Firefox and Chrome, can I use it to do the same thing here?
But as a whole, I haven't liked this last Dashboard update, so I'm hopeful that this one will have some real improvements. I'm sure this will be like any Facebook update and create lots of grumblings and whining initially, which will stave off as people get used to the new layout and setup.
There is no SmartGlass inclusion so far, as they are waiting for Windows 8's launch on October 26th.