Xbox 360 dashboard update released in the wild

All over the world, Xbox 360 owners are switching on their machines to find a treat waiting for them: the fall Xbox 360 dashboard update, an overhaul designed for the imminent launch of Kinect.

At least, I think it’s a treat. My (very early) impressions are a mixed bag. While voice-chat quality is definitely much-improved, and menus load up noticeably quicker, I’m not yet sold on the sleek Apple-y look adopted for this version of the dashboard. I’ll probably get used to it.

Perhaps slightly more concerning are the menus, which have already frozen on me half a dozen times, forcing me to go back and try again (accessing my friends list is proving especially problematic). I suspect such kinks will be ironed out swiftly. Also of note: “xbox.com/support” is currently trending on Google – not exactly a great sign.

Still, let’s give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt here, because there’s a lot packed into this update. While it’s really intended as a red carpet for Kinect, it also allows 360 owners to watch ESPN on their Xboxes (U.S. only), or buy music from the Zune Marketplace. Nice.

More realistically proportioned Avatars, the aforementioned superior voice-chat, an in-dashboard keyboard, and comprehensive wireless network support are also part of the package.

[Via Major Nelson]