Xbox LIVE's Enhancements and Downgrades - The UpStream

Xbox LIVE's Enhancements and Downgrades

posted Saturday Dec 10, 2011 by Scott Ertz

Xbox LIVE's Enhancements and Downgrades

This has been a big week for Microsoft and its Xbox LIVE platform. We saw the launch of the dashboard update promised at E3 2011, plus the beginning of the media enhancements we have been waiting for. We got a surprise iOS app, called My Xbox LIVE, plus a Sony-esque User License alteration.

Let's start with the bad - in a similar move to the PlayStation Network, post hacking, Microsoft has added a new clause to their Terms of Service, preventing lawsuits against the company based on events involving Xbox or Xbox LIVE. Obviously, this is a reaction to the Sony breach earlier this year, however, they have taken a different tact. Sony allowed for an opt-out on the new clause, while Microsoft has not. While this lack of an opt-out has created a lot of discontentment in the Xbox community, it is important to note that, to date, the Xbox community has never risen against Microsoft, even while dealing with the RRoD problem in the early days of the 360.

To get the details on the iOS app and the dashboard and media enhancements, hit the break.

The overall opinion of the dashboard update, bringing the user interface of the Xbox 360 in line with the new Metro-style, similar to the Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 platforms, has been met with mixed reactions. While the overwhelming opinion has been positive, there are some people who aren't happy about it. Some people claim that it is harder to use, though the number of "clicks" to get to any single item has been reduced, and others claim that things are harder to find, though all content is in the same categories they were under the old dashboard. My guess is that people are unhappy with the change just because they have to be on the outside of what is popular.

The one complaint that has merit is in regards to the media content. We were promised a huge influx of media partners, though not all at launch, and very few net platforms came with the update. While The Today Show has been added, we still have yet to see iHeartRadio or other popular partners. Many people, including myself, think the update should have been held off until all of the media partners were ready, or the media partners should have been encouraged to be finished by now or be left off the platform, or at least the initial announcement. It has left a lot of people feeling cheated.

Microsoft has won over some users with its new iOS app, though. Allowing for messaging, gamer score viewing, achievements, avatar updates and even Xbox LIVE video has brought almost all of the portable capabilities to a non-Microsoft platform. The best part is that the app looks almost exactly like the Windows Phone Xbox LIVE app, allowing Microsoft to show off how easy WinPho7 apps are to use. All of this is accomplished while giving users what they want and staying within Apple's application guidelines.

So, what do you think about all of the changes happening in the Xbox LIVE community? Let us know in the comments section.

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