Hands-on with the new Xbox Experience

Microsoft has named a date for the launch of its revamped Xbox Live service: 19 November.

(Credit: Microsoft)

Since the first announcement of a redesign of the massively popular service at E3 in July, some hardcore Xbox 360 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.

We recently saw the (not quite finished) new version of Xbox Live, and we'd have to say, fret no more.

Dubbed the "New Xbox Experience", it really does seem to have something for everyone: an easy-to-use graphical interface complete with deeply customisable avatars that casual players will enjoy, and all kinds of new functionality that will reward the dedication of the hardcore Xbox player.

Microsoft readily admits that there may be a transition period for those core players — a time during which plenty of griping will no doubt be heard — but the company fully expects those players to gradually realise that the new service takes the existing Xbox Live and adds all kinds of new community and interactive functions to it.

And, again, we 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 a way as to maximise 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.

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