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New Xbox dashboard – what you need to know

It’s that time of year again: for family, friends and festive cheer. And with another Christmas comes another Xbox update. But this time around, Microsoft means business.

From today, Xbox starts its journey to more on-demand services and greater synchronicity with the hotly anticipated dashboard update.

After a false start yesterday, when the new dashboard was originally due to go live, we now have lift off. Offering a load of cool new features designed to keep users hooked to the system, the new dashboard is a completely new look for the Xbox.

Windows Phone 7 syncing

Gone are the tabs used to navigate around the system, replaced by boxes and windows that give the system the feel of a Windows Phone 7 operating system.

This was no accident, as Microsoft look to do the Apple-thing and increase syncing amongst its products.

So users will able to employ their Windows Phone to navigate around the system, and can earn Xbox Achievements on games on their phone.

But if you don’t have a Windows Phone 7 don’t panic, Microsoft have brought their motion sensor technology Kinect to the forefront of the new dashboard.

Xbox Kinect navigation

Where previously Kinect was hidden away in a small sub-menu of the dashboard, it is now out and proud. Navigation with the traditional joystick is a good as ever, but with the Kinect navigation is sublime.

Always primed, you simply have to say ‘Xbox’ followed by your command and Kinect will take you wherever you want to go.

Another key facet of the new-look Xbox is the on-demand service. Still in its infancy, the service offers films, TV shows and games to Xbox Live Gold members.

These include Lovefilm, YouTube, 4OD, and Channel 5 On Demand, as well as existing services Sky, and Zune.

More on-demand, such as BBC iPlayer, is expected in 2012, which will be available from the Xbox Marketplace.

With smart TVs set to make a real commercial impact in 2012, next year looks set to be the year of synchronicity and content on demand. And so far, Xbox are leading the way.

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