During their keynote address at the Tokyo Game Show, Microsoft announced it is redesigning the interface for its Xbox Live service. The update called the "New Xbox Experience" will launch on November 19 in 26 countries and will be localized in 19 languages.
Gamasutra scored an interview with Microsoft senior platform strategist Rob Gruhl and global platform marketing manager Albert Penello. They discussed the details of the Xbox Live update.
Xbox Live's Marketplace interface has also been redesigned. Players will be able to view more detailed descriptions, screenshots, and information more easily for titles. This information will also be made available on the Web, so that users who are not at their Xbox 360 can still browse through the Xbox Live Marketplace. A new games channel has been developed, including a new games details page for "back of the box games details." A spotlight channel has been developed that will show, anything on the Xbox Live service that is popular and new.
CNET recently acquired a demo of the “New Xbox Experience” and wrote up a detailed analysis of its features. One of the significant changes is the removal of the blade interface. The blades allowed users to access pages of information and features quickly due to the fact they are stacked on top of each other. The new interface uses full windows spread out on the screen.
Another significant change is the addition of the avatar system. Users can choose their avatar from a large group; each avatar is dressed differently, has a unique hair style, and skin color. Once you have chosen your avatar you will be allowed to customize it with new clothing, accessories, and hair. It is still unclear whether the avatar system will be incorporated into games -- other possibilities are the awarding of new accessories for your avatar based on your accomplishments in the Xbox Achievements system.
The other major feature of the “New Xbox Experience” is “parties”. This feature will allow groups of friends to communicate using chat or text messages. If the friends are not actively playing together it is still possible to see the profiles of other users including what they are playing.
Another change is Xbox Live users will be able to implement changes to their system through Xbox.com. New accessories or game updates that have become available can be ordered through the internet. When users return to their Xbox 360s, they don't have to try to remember what it was they wanted.
A quick start mechanism has been incorporated that allows fast access to almost everything the system has to offer. If users are in a hurry it will allow them to skip the larger Xbox Live experience. Choices are more limited, but most of what they need is available.