a visual historical past of the many Xbox dashboards

a visual historical past of the many Xbox dashboards

Few interfaces have modified more frequently — or extra notably — than the Xbox dashboard. So Much systems with a large user base are incredibly gradual to introduce sweeping changes, however that hasn’t been the case for Microsoft’s sport consoles. History displays that its technique for running in new options and services concerned scrapping its earlier interface, essentially asking you to re-find out how to make use of the gadget and find your content material.

Microsoft merits credit score for experimenting with its dashboard throughout the years, even though lots of those experiments weren’t great. With the Xbox Collection X set to unlock later in 2020, now looks like an even time to trap up at the historical past of the Xbox One and the Xbox 360 dashboard to look the place it’s been and the place it will be going.


Some updates were better (or worse) than others, but all of them have something in common: they’ve all been succeeded by way of a brand new imaginative and prescient. As this visible historical past points out, a few of their concepts are seen in modern iterations of the dashboard and will be in updates to return and perhaps on long term consoles, too.

Xbox 360

Blades (2005)

Good: Rapid and tidy

Dangerous: It appeared like a Winamp skin

The “blades” dashboard interface debuted on the Xbox 360 at launch, organizing each and every of the console’s major features into separate sections. This interface had a lot extra to squeeze in than the relatively sparse-but-stylish dashboard found at the unique Xbox. having said that, it used to be tidy and easy to grasp. Also, quickly switching between sections was responsive, and elements have been rapid to load (regardless of the 360’s 512MB of RAM). And that “whoosh” sound effect from switching blades will perpetually be lodged in my brain.

it’s good to argue that this was once as close as Microsoft got to perfecting the dashboard, though you should additionally argue that it wouldn’t have scaled well with future goals). That mentioned, concept from this dashboard will also be discovered on following updates in the event you look laborious sufficient.


New Xbox Experience (2008)

Just Right: Avatars! Extra customizable than blades

Bad: Not as rapid or pleasurable to use as blades

Three years after the release of the Xbox 360, Microsoft wiped the slate clean with the NXE interface replace. And with the appearance of Netflix instant streaming and other entertainment-based totally apps, the Xbox 360 used to be starting its descent into interface insanity, having to juggle gaming with other kinds of entertainment at the dashboard. It started to appear to be a set-best field.

Remnants of the beloved blades could be discovered while you pressed the Xbox button at the controller. But on the dashboard, they had been changed in favor of every segment being stacked on most sensible of every different. Navigate to the one you need, then all of your content lived within its tile-based totally interface that it’s good to scroll through from left to right. It seemed more polished and mature than blades, but it surely wasn’t necessarily sooner or more uncomplicated to use. A Few could have liked it, but not everyone did.

Below the hood, it caused some essential updates for the Xbox 360, like avatars to compete with Nintendo’s Miis. It also offered the power to flow HD videos on Netflix, form parties on Xbox Live, and install video games onto the hard drive for quicker loading.

Kinect replace (2010)

Good: More delicate version of NXE

Bad: More convoluted, too, and Kinect improve was once shoe-horned

Avatars were only one part of Microsoft’s plan to copy the a success Wii. It wanted gamers to use the Kinect digicam to get moving, and therefore, the design of this new dashboard replace made Kinect the center piece.

In Reality, this used to be a minor visual update to the NXE. It nonetheless had the similar total look, structure, and navigation that the 2008 replace offered, however Microsoft labored in the power to transport across the dashboard with the Kinect (RIP). If You didn’t just like the NXE, you most likely didn’t like this, either.

New Xbox TV Experience

Metro (2011)

Excellent: Nice to look at, brought again blade-taste primary navigation in a sense

Dangerous: Simplistic interface didn’t help in briefly sorting via troves of content

The 2011 replace that offered the “Metro” design confirmed that Microsoft was once looking to juggle greater than ever, however it selected a brand new dashboard look that didn’t afford enough space to effortlessly express it. The design language gave off a sense of “less is extra,” however what it in reality proved was once that much less was much less. Microsoft remains to be looking to shake away some ideas from the Xbox One’s dashboard that came with this update.

Every display only housed a couple of tiles, and to seek out other content, you’d need to drill down into disparate folders. And in its sixth year on the market, a few of these options had been beginning to display the Xbox 360’s age.

In a sense, this dashboard replace merged blades with the NXE, letting you employ the bumpers to shift between categories a los angeles blades and navigate every of the colourful tiles within every phase like it’s worthwhile to in NXE. And after all, it was compatible with Microsoft’s Kinect, so if you happen to had the digital camera, you’ll want to swipe between menus through waving your hand or using your voice to go looking on Bing.

Below the hood, the replace brought a few essential features, like cloud garage for game saves. We tracked its each building again in 2011 earlier than it launched.

Xbox One

Xbox One homescreen 1024px

The release dashboard (2013)

Just Right: Highly customizable

Unhealthy: Crowded and complicated to navigate, slightly laggy, lopsided focus in choose of TV

The Xbox One launched on the heels of Windows EIGHT, so it’s no marvel that the desktop OS’s “Metro” layout used to be used as the bedrock of its release dashboard in 2013. Unlike the Xbox 360 dashboards, shown above, that use the same styling, this one was a licensed mess to navigate as it blended games with TELEVISION and the whole lot else at the home screen. Discovery of recent content was once prioritized over discovery of content you have already got.

Microsoft’s first stab on the Xbox One dashboard was once bold in all of the wrong tactics, although it has in view that walked back most of its prime missteps. for instance, Microsoft didn’t see the cord-chopping revolution coming, so its large on-call for TV and DVR gamble fizzled out. Plus, the conceptually great “snap” serve as that Microsoft believed in so totally that it placed a button for it at the controller was deserted in 2017. (It’s getting rid of the button altogether on its new Xbox controller coming in 2020.)

The Brand New Xbox One Experience (2015)

Excellent: A Long Way more uncomplicated to navigate than the release dashboard

Dangerous: Sooner but nonetheless now not snappy

the primary large overhaul to the Xbox One dashboard placed a much-wanted take care of your video games. It additionally promised to be quicker, and it was once, but it surely wasn’t just about rapid sufficient. Microsoft had simply launched Windows 10, and as it did on COMPUTER, it was once making a large push for its voice assistant Cortana on console. The iterations of the dashboard that follow all riff on the general layout presented here, which is to say that Microsoft was at the right monitor with this update.

Fluent Design (2017)

Just Right: Further emphasis on pins to kind content material

Bad: An Excessive Amount Of content still lived just out of view

Microsoft’s next update injected Fluent Layout, the look and really feel that Microsoft employed on Home Windows 10. the new home screen fascinated by appearing your contemporary process and giving players sooner access to group features.

It additionally made better use of pins, which allow you to break apps and video games into sections. rather than having to scroll through tiles and menus to search out where your content material is, being able to vertically scroll through a couple of pins used to be far more uncomplicated, even though nonetheless not absolute best. Game Move debuted in 2017 earlier than this dashboard update released, however whilst the provider was catching on, it remained somewhat too a ways out of view.


Why Microsoft thinks customization is the secret to a better Xbox One dashboard design

The refinement process (2018–provide)

Good: It’s recovering with each and every update, and (in the end) it’s less laggy.

Dangerous: The Whole Lot is converting extra incessantly than ever

Cortana voice interaction is gone. FastStart means that you can boot into games prior to they finish downloading. Xbox Recreation Pass has its personal phase on the major navigation. The eject button, it’s coming! Microsoft has been iterating at the Xbox One dashboard quicker than ever, and in the interest of speeding issues up, clearing the cruft of in advance dashboards, and making it easier to get admission to games.

As for the latest replace that launched in late February 2020, my colleague Tom Warren says it “makes a speciality of overhauling the house page of the Xbox One dashboard, with often used games and apps to be had straight away. the brand new House design additionally contains the ability to add or cast off rows to customize it further, and quick access to Xbox Game Go, Mixer, and the Microsoft Store.” You’ll Be Able To read more about it here.

It’s never been extra apparent that Microsoft is quickly trying to resolve for its ongoing id predicament with the dashboard. The Xbox One has noticed large reworks of the dashboard extra steadily than sooner than, and the stakes are high as we get closer to the release of the Xbox Series X in late 2020.

Xbox Collection X

Release dashboard (2020)

Excellent: ?

Unhealthy: ?

Microsoft will release the Xbox Collection X in overdue 2020, and it’s a toss-up as as to whether it chooses to start from scratch with a brand new dashboard for its new console or if it will construct off of the momentum from the latest Xbox One dashboard update, and what’s to come between now and launch day.

for the reason that Microsoft is touting backward compatibility with games from all previous generations of Xbox, it’s simple to assume it opting for to load a slightly modified version of the Xbox One’s dashboard onto the Series X. We’ll need to wait and see what it chooses to do.

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