Xbox 360 is getting another makeover, this time to its user interface, the Xbox Dashboard. Announced at this year's E3 show in Los Angeles, the latest overhaul of the Dashboard, codenamed "Madrid," will be available to all Xbox 360 owners on December 6.
The first thing you'll notice when firing up the new Dashboard is a sweeping visual update, based on the "Metro" theme introduced by Microsoft in its Windows Phone 7 software and due to grace its upcoming Windows 8 operating system. Snappy and stylish, it adds a number of handy new features, such as a Quick Launch section that lists your 10 most recently used games and apps, and faster access to video and music apps like Netflix and Zune. Rather than relegating it to a separate Dashboard, the update also lets you use Microsoft's Kinect sensor to navigate all of the Xbox 360's menus with gestures and voice commands.
Other major updates include built-in Bing search featuring Kinect voice recognition, for finding content on your Xbox 360 and Xbox Live; Facebook sharing of activity; cloud-based game and Xbox Live profile saves; and Beacons you can set that will alert you when friends are playing specific games, and that tell them what you're interested in playing.
If your Xbox 360 is connected to the internet, you'll be automatically prompted to install the update when it becomes available December 6. The update is mandatory, so opting out of the installation will keep you from signing into Xbox Live. For those without connected consoles, the new Dashboard will also be included on-disc with upcoming Microsoft game releases.
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