By Martin Vedris
SYDNEY: Microsoft Games and Live senior product manager, Andrew Jenkins, has today confirmed details of the new Xbox Live Dashboard as news leaks of at least a November release date.
"It will be here before the end of the year, and it is a global release and all 12 million Xbox Live subscribers will get the update at the same time, " said Jenkins, who stopped short of confirming whether a November release date was likely.
News has leaked out that the Harmonix Rock Band 2 game told gamers to "Check out the New XBox Experience coming in November!"
Jenkins said that when the new Dashboard is released though, gamers will receive a message to download the latest Dashboard, but the software will also be released on new game discs.
"On the date we release it, it will be a global message to update the console and if you don’t do it through our connected service, you will be able to do it on disc, so when you buy the latest Gears of War, or whatever game purchased after the release of the Dash it will have the new Dashboard in the disc and it will automatically update your Xbox."
In terms of details, in addition to the new look and feel, Jenkins confirmed that it will allow the game to be installed on the hard drive, but the game disc will still be required to activate the game; a function designed to prevent piracy.
"With this new dashboard experience you will be able to install the entire game onto the hard drive, and by using the disc you can initiate the game start up, which allows to you to have even quicker load times, an even quieter box and even better experience."
Jenkins also talked about what the new Dashboard will be like.
"First and foremost the look and feel of the Dashboard completely changes," he said. "There is a 3D element to the visuals and experience and is part of the new wow factor, the avatars have depth, the whole Dashboard has a 3D look and feel.
"When you log in you get to the My Xbox Channel, you will see your gamer score, your avatars and game achievements, but it’s laid out in a way that all of the experiences are pushed out right in front of you; it is so user friendly.
Jenkins also talked about the level of avatar customisation it will offer.
"Customisation of avatars is off the charts, you can make them look as much like you, or not like you, as you want. You can add hats, clothing, if you’re a female you can add a purse, lipstick, there are endless amounts of customisation."
Beyond the new Dashboard, the main aim of Xbox Live is connecting gamers in communities and the new Dashboard offers a lot more ways to interact.
"In your online community, all your friends are right there represented by their avatars and above their head it will tell you what they’re doing, whether playing a game, watching a movie or sharing photos, so you can jump into that experience with your friends.
"Imagine an open plan community with all these avatars interacting and from there I can get a group of my friends to create a party to enhance the community experience and we can all go from one experience to the next, from playing a game together, to sharing photos, sharing videos, having a chat, and doing all these different things."
For gamers who can’t get enough, this new Dashboard could keep them engaged for hours.
"Over the last month, a total of six million hours were played on the XBox Live service," Jenkins said.