The number-crunchers at Microsoft know the reasons you turn off your Xbox 360. It's to surf videos on YouTube, to tune in a pay-per-view fight or to catch the new episode of a TV show you want to watch as soon as it airs. Being Microsoft, they don't want you turning off their console. The new dashboard update being pushed out to all 360s this week is their bet to keep you plugged into Xbox Live for as long as possible.
The dashboard update—which adheres to the Metro design language seen in Windows Phone 7 and coming to Windows 8—hooks into new entertainment partnerships by offering more robust navigation options than ever before. It sports a new user interface that allows you to swipe through different content categories and uses Kinect to execute Bing voice searches. Some of this functionality was teased at this year's E3 but at the cusp of launch Microsoft's revealing more about how the Metro update looks and feels, and just what TV and internet outlets you'll be able to access through your 360.
When the update starts rolling out on December 6th, console owners will notice reorganized tabs and that they can now switch seamlessly between gesture, voice or controller to get to where they want to go. Simply saying "Xbox, Bing Star Wars" brings up every TV show, movie or video game tagged with the title of George Lucas' masterpiece. The new search protocols comb through metadata and multiple services, too, so you'll see results from Netflix, Zune content and other providers on Xbox Live Marketplace like Comcast's Xfinity On Demand (which comes to Xbox later down the line). A YouTube app will also be launching on 12/6, with a My YouTube menu that ports over your profile from the video hosting network, complete with subscriptions intact. However, voice search won't be live for YouTube until some time later. As previously shown, you'll be able to use the Xbox Live Companion App on Windows Phone 7 phones (also out this week) to navigate through the new dashboard, too.