I think everyone who owns an Xbox will be going through their forced mandatory upgrade within a few hours of this post so there’s no real escaping it.

Today, Microsoft has launched the NXE, or new Xbox experience, a complete overhaul of the main Xbox interface designed to make it less cluttered, more intuitive and adds mii ripoffs, I mean Avatars to the system.

The download clocks in at just over 123mb, which means that you must have a hard drive or memory card to use it. Given that it’s a mandatory upgrade, it’s just a shame that I really REALLY dislike it, a LOT!!!

Ignoring the whole thing about the avatars (i’m not a big fan of Miis either) there are things to like about NXE, such as the much speedier speeds with which you can navigate around the menus and the relative ease with how you can access things now.
loading of downloaded games and demos is a lot faster too.

But there’s a whole lot wrong with it as well. Within 10 minutes of trying it out, here’s just a few problems I experienced with it

  • The old themes don’t work with the NXE. as you can see in the pic above, for the main menu, a giant silver disk now takes up half the screen for the main page and the menus obscure all the other pages as well. This means that any themes used before are not completely useless and, in many ways, it looks like themes will be pushed off outright as they no longer serve any purpose. Not even the “look pretty” purpose. This may not bother a lot of people, but for those who purchased any (like me, I bought a puzzlefighter theme) this is a low blow.
  • The whole thing takes a lot longer to load up. It took me almost twice as long to get to the menus and log into my profile compared to before
  • The damn thing crashed on me!!!! While I was navigating through my friends list, the display seized up and became non responsive, forcing me to turn off the system using the power button on the console. If that’s not a crash, I don’t know what is!!

Also, this is more a case of “getting used to the new” but it takes me forever to find specific settings and options now as things have been moved around. They’re still there, but it’s not as obvious where. Kind of like comparing XP to Vista.

Users have been raving about the video download service and the ability to install games onto the hard drive but I have no use for the video download service on the xbox as I use other means and my HD is a pathetic 20gig drive so I would only be able to fit in 2 games and that’s if I remove pretty much everything else!!

In terms of interfaces, The wii still provides the fastest access to pretty much anywhere you want with it’s wii channels and the sony XMB, while not as pretty as the NXE, still feels better in terms of function.
The NXE feels like it was born by mixing various ideas from it’s rivals but doesn’t necessarily make any grand improvements.
There are some really cool features like the streamlined movie store and the ability to install games onto the hard drive but I use other methods to get my movies (usually blu ray disk these days), so I have no need for the Xbox video service and my HD is a poor 20gig drive which would only hold up to 2 games and that’s if I remove most of the content already on there!!!
I’m one of the users who will see very little benefit from this update so it feels like a waste of time, ugly and pointless.

And Gimme back my Chibi Puzzlefighter characters back dammit!!!