Whether you're one of the legions of hard-core Xbox players or someone who's only played with the game console casually, get ready for an all-new Xbox Live.
Since the first announcement of the new approach to the massively popular service at E3 in July, some longtime fans have fretted that Microsoft is morphing it into a place for purely casual players at the expense of those for whom Xbox Live is nearly as much a home as where they actually live.
Well, based on a demo I got recently of the (not quite finished) new version of Xbox Live, I'd have to say, fret no more.
Dubbed the new "Xbox Live Experience," this re-launched service--which is rumored to be launching in November, but which Microsoft will only say is due "before Christmas"--really does seem to have something for everyone: an easy-to-use graphical interface complete with deeply customizable avatars that casual players will enjoy, and all kinds of new functionality that will actually reward the dedication of the hard-core Xbox player.
Microsoft readily admits that there may be a bit of a transition period for those core players--a time during which a lot of griping might be heard--but the company fully expects a gradual realization on the part of those players that the new service takes the existing Xbox Live and adds all kinds of new community and interactive functions to it.
And, again, I would have to agree.
To date, the Xbox Live interface has been based on what are called blades, essentially pages of information stacked on top of each other in such as way as to maximize the number of choices Xbox Live players have and the directions in which they can go. They can see lists of games to play, choose to watch a movie, go into a section to buy add-ons for games, and so on. The new interface largely does away with the blades era and moves into a more advanced motif of full windows that spread out on the screen and stretch off into the distance, allowing users to shuttle through them, left to right or right to left.
But that's getting a little too far ahead. … Read more