Microsoft has released the first screens of how the Xbox will work, essentially (cringe now, console gamers) the machine’s operating system.
Called the Xbox Dashboard, this is the first look at the console when not playing a game and highlights the close attention to detail, and we might cheekily add, other manufacturer’s consoles.
“Anyone who has owned a game console knows that they have built-in support for changing settings (like language, audio, and video) and managing saved games,” said Jeff Henshaw, Excecutive Producer of the Xbox. “Of course Xbox has to have this support...after all we not only have Xbox Memory Units, but also work with High-Definition TV and advanced audio”
It sounds as if the Xbox, its hefty price tag aside, will be the console for everyone and any technology. Henshaw goes on: “Xbox is designed to work well with all TV systems, but features advanced output options that you've read about in past columns here. Yes, we have to test on everything from ancient black-and-white 13" beta TVs to 70" HDTVs with Dolby Surround. In addition to those audio/visual settings, the Xbox Dashboard gives you a quick and easy place to set the language, time, and date should you need to. Parents can even choose to limit the amount of violence or other mature content which can be played on the Xbox here. But we won't tell any parents about that, will we? After all, it's our Xbox, not theirs!” Oooh, the controversy!
All this bodes well for us UK gamers. It is looking likely that the Xbox will come complete with a time base corrector enabling games to automatically run at 60 Hz if the TV set is capable.
Henshaw has some good ideas when it comes to music in games. “A couple weeks ago I mentioned that many Xbox games will use custom soundtracks that players can create and then listen to in the games they play. The Xbox Dashboard helps make this possible by giving gamers a place to create these soundtracks from their own CDs. You'll be able to bring the tracks that you want to hear to Xbox, organise them in a soundtrack, and then tell games which soundtrack you want to hear while you play.” Bye bye background music! This is surely the coolest thing to come from the Xbox camp in many, many months.