This post is a refreshed version of a post we created in 2012, also taking a look back at the dashboards of the Xbox 360.
So we’ve properly entered into the next generation of gaming. It’s likely that this year will see many AAA publishers ditching the Xbox 360 for good with a keen focus on the “next-generation of gaming,” and thought that’s all well and good, we can’t just forget a console that’s been in most of our lives for almost ten years, can we?
In order to spark some of that nostalgia, we decided to take a look back at the history of the Xbox Dashboard, starting from the first Xbox, released in 2002 (for the EU), to the Xbox 360 which launched in 2005, all the way to the Xbox One which launched in 2013. So, here we go.
So the Xbox, for those who don’t know, was Microsoft’s first real home console, and was the birthplace of Halo: Combat Evolved. It was also the first console that really introduced multiplayer gaming into the living room with Xbox Live. Though unlike today’s consoles, the Xbox didn’t really have a dashboard, more of a menu that allowed you to edit settings, play music, and more. Like with the PlayStation, and the PlayStation 2, all it really focused on was playing games.
For those who want to remember what the “dashboard” of the Xbox looked like, here you go:
From the Xbox, Microsoft then launched the Xbox 360, this console was the first – at least for me – to introduce a dedicated dashboard that offered more than basic settings, the ability to remove game saves from the memory card, and play music from a disc. This, of course, was the first of many dashboard iterations that the Xbox 360 would go through in the next couple of years, and I’ll tell you something, I’ll never forget the default orange dashboard theme.
There were of course other themes for you to choose from with different colours, and of course different skins for your favourite games, but out of all of them, this is the one I remember the most.
As Xbox Live started to become increasingly popular and the gamer pictures on Xbox Live could only express so much of yourself, Microsoft decided to launch the second generation dashboard that not only introduced panels onto the Xbox 360 for the first time, it also introduced one of the consoles biggest personalisation features, the Avatar. That’s right, in 2008 Microsoft added the ability for players to create their own Avatar to really show off how cool they are. In retrospect, this was Microsoft’s first real attempt at pushing microtransactions to the consumer with the Xbox Avatar Marketplace.
This new dashboard helped you keep thinks more organised by having everything sorted into different categories and each of those categories having more options for you to work with, whether it was checking out the games you already own, or hopping to the marketplace and purchasing a new one.
For those who missed out, here’s what that got all of us pretty exited back in 2008:
With this brand-new style of layout, Microsoft didn’t pull many punches in the next few years. They did update the dashboard somewhat, but only really refreshed it from the bland green tiles, to something a little fresher, crisper, and slowly aiming more towards the Metro UI we’ve become accustomed to on the later console versions.
This update also threw more focus on your Avatar too.
Then came 2012, the year when Microsoft unleashed Windows 8 into the world, and with it came a new focus on the Metro tiles that Microsoft seems to absolutely adore. With the Metro-style UI also came the introduction of advertisements on our dashboards, though at this point all the ads available were pointing you towards an app that you might enjoy. Actually this is also the year Microsoft introduced apps onto the Xbox 360 offering the chance to download apps for Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, and more.
It also had the option to search for things on Bing, but at the time it only searched for games on the Xbox Marketplace. It’s worth noting that this was the first time the Xbox 360 didn’t have theme options, so if you wanted a lovely Gears of War theme like before, you were pretty much screwed.
It also moved the focus away from games pushing you more towards media. Check the screen shot above, then below to see exactly how much the shift focused from the game you’ve actually got in your tray, to a slew of bigger, more prominent ads, also your Avatar quickly shifted from view fairly quickly.
Finally, a year later Microsoft updated the dashboard a little more further unifying it with Windows 8 adding more, smaller tiles, and actual live advertisements which if you accidentally scrolled over, would start playing sound. This dashboard is actually the one we know, and.. er.. love? today. Unfortunately it hasn’t changed much since 2013, which comes as no real surprise considering Microsoft’s focus at the time was perfecting the Xbox One.. or the Xbox 720 as we thought it would be called.
Here’s a look at the latest version of the Xbox 360 dashboard, as you can see more tiles means more advertisements for games, apps, movies, and TV shows, that you’re probably not interested in, oh and those autoplay ads can go die in a ditch:
At the end of 2013 came the arrival of the Xbox One and with that came a whole new Dashboard experience, a dashboard experience that’s about as user friendly as an avocado. No longer can you just navigate to settings, you have to press the “menu” button on the controller, the games tab didn’t actually show you what games you owned, instead it featured offer after offer after offer, and then, hey! there’s your games collection.
Thankfully since the launch of the Xbox One, Microsoft have been launching updates fairly frequently to improve what can only really be called a work in progress. Below is an example of few of the ways the Xbox One dashboard has changed over the past year.
Oh and it’s worth mentioning that your Xbox Avatar is practically useless now as Microsoft has shoved the little bugger right out of the window only to be found deep within the friends area. I guess they’ll forever live on, on our Xbox 360 dashboards.
And finally, Microsoft decided to bring the ability to whack a background on your dashboard too, which could look a little something like the image below!
Though Microsoft still have some work to do with the Xbox One, it’s really interesting to see just how things have changed over the years.