Today saw the first major update to the Xbox 360's Dashboard. This is big news on so many fronts.
First, we have never seen a console Operating System receive an update like this before. Second, Microsoft addressed some of the biggest nitpicks of the system, including ours.
The download took less than a minute, which is impressive considering how many new and improved features were included. Barring a couple freezes here and there, I would say this update went as smooth as possible for Xbox 360 owners.
Of the "over 125 new features" included, you won't notice most of them. In fact, someone with an untrained eye might not find all the goodies added to Dashboard.
Lets first take a look at what can be crossed off of our list of annoyances, shall we?
- Boot to Dashboard - This was a major gripe of mine. There is now a setting in the System blade to boot directly to the Dashboard. This was the first thing I did this morning. No longer do I have to use the Media Center button on my remote, or eject the tray when I want to boot to the dashboard. I imagine a lot of people wrote in asking for this feature.
- Download Manager - You can now queue up to six downloads, and they will download sequentially. No more staring and cursing at Marketplace while your 1 GB demo of Game X downloads.
If you jump into an Xbox Live game, the download stops, restarting again when you are no longer playing on Live. This feature works as advertised. It would have been nice to have before E3 this year, but oh well. Some games may sign into Live for you, stopping your download. Once you are signed out of your Live game session, the download will continue.
- Video - On the Media Blade, there is a listing for Video. Before today's update this was pretty much useless. It only contained the video that came pre-installed on the hard drive, which most people deleted within the first week. Now non-game related video downloads from the Marketplace, movie trailers for example, show up under Video.
- Marketplace Organization - The reorganized Marketplace is a huge benefit. It no longer takes you 10 minutes to find the Additional iTunes Support file. It has its own entry on the main Marketplace page. The new categories for Marketplace are also well thought out, and will work well for the future.
Four of my original seven main complaints about the Dashboard have been crossed off the checklist. That's not bad at all.