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back to article Inside Microsoft's 'New Xbox Experience'

Microsoft released the anticipated face-lift for its Xbox 360 game console and online service today, dubbed the New Xbox Experience (or NXE). Along with a complete graphical revision, the update adds new features like customizable avatars, the ability to install games to the console's hard drive, and puts a much greater focus on …

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120TB?

if you know where i can get one of those for $160, I would be impressed :D

that aside, the whole thing sounds crap, to put it bluntly. has anyone seen that (fairly) new advert for shitboxes on UK tv? first it shows you people apparently enjoying watching movies on their shitbox 360, then immediately cuts to a "woo look, were selling them for £129.99" clip, only if you read the (very) smallprint will you discover that infact, 129.99 models do not come with a hard drive that is required to watch a movie. models starting at (i think) 169.99 do. that is very nearly false advertising IMO and at the least extremely questionable.

at the end of the day, a fairly cheap (mine was 400) but current PC will let you play most of these next-gen games without shelling out 200 quid or so for a console, plus the hd telly. and you can watch movies on a pc too. :)

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(Written by Reg staff)
Heart

Gigabytes and me

Thank you to the many, many, many people who pointed out the typo. I'm rejecting those comments, but will dedicate the tears falling into my beer glass this evening to each of you.

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Flame

Shot in foot.

I paid £400 for my xbox when i came out, to get a 20gb hdd. FIlled it up pretty quickly with downloads and Microsoft want HHHHOOOOWWW much for a 1120gb hdd? As mentioned, considering that they are pusihng a strategy of downloading their games and saving them all those retail/logistics fees, they should be giving the bloody things away!

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Its a pile of shit this new GUI

Why you ask?

I have a 120gb USB drive stuck in the back with 50gb worth of MP3's. Before I could navigate to a folder and scroll through 500 mp3's as quickly as I could if the USB drive were plugged into my PC.

Now I'm stuck with a "please wait" sign for a minute until I can get in the bloody thing. To top it off it reads the title of the ID tag. So there's no artist name any more. And to really add insult to injury mid game if you want to change the music you can't add to a play list, it just plays the bloody track!

Bah fecking humbug! Selling us a bunch of shyte seems to have taken the focus off something simple and easy to use... I don't really give two fucks about an avatar, if you can't make the women take their clothes off whats the bloody point?

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Stability issues

I know it's early days but there are still a few issues with the NXE, for example everyone I know has had the console freeze when viewing the Friends page, and the content is ofren reported as not being available (possibly due to high loads, time will tell)

Hopefully these minor niggles will be resolved soon. Overall however I quite like the change.

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Legal

I read an MS ad on Sunday that contained a reference to the Nintendo Wii with no acknowledgement - not even an R or TM. I hope Nintendo's lawyers notice...

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I like it

I like it, but then again the old dashboard was at the end massively clunky. It started out well enough but adding this and that to it just made it a slow and horrible navigating experience.

As for cries of Wii-mulation: updated product looks like more successful product shocker!

I have a Wii and it receives far less use than my 360 does. I don't have a PS3, I'm sure they're fine but the 360 does all I need to play games.

I'm secretly pleased my original Premium 360 died and I bought an Elite (with 120TB hard drive...) while MS were fixing it. The original came back and I got a great price for it on ebay, leaving me with one truly capacious console, which is now full of installed games.

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Gates Halo

Awww, 'innit pretty?

To give Microsoft their due (not a regular habit of mine), I actually rather like the new interface. Sure, the avatars are a bit of fun and the whole "experience" spiel is a little overblown but it does improve what was a bit of a basic interface and give it more of a fun 'n fresh feel. It's almost, dare I say it, rather funky.

Yes, the avatars look like some kind of Nintendo reject. Yes, it does take up 100MB (didn't realise that). And yes, they'll doubtless charge for avatar clothing in future but then if people were willing to pay for a tiny gamerpic (seriously Austin, why?) then the same people will probably pay for e-clothing.

Overall, I'd give it 8/10. Bill Gates with a halo because it's probably the only chance I'll ever get to use it.

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Boffin

Market figures, please!

I'm waiting for when these "game consoles" that are morphing into "home entertainment centers" actually get counted in the home computer class for market share figures. How long before M$ release MS Office for Xbox (just needs a better keyboard than the Messenger keypad), or supports Xboen with the online version of Office? At that point, people will suddenly wake up and realise that M$ is actually now a hardware vendor in the same class as Apple (if not larger!). So, El Reg, how do Xbox sales compare to iMac numbers?

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Not bad, not bad...

I quite like the NXE so far, although XBL has been crapped out for most of the day.

Its defiantly a rip off of both Wii and PS3 GUI's though, but thats no bad thing. Seems pretty straight forward to use, but neat, modern and very post 2006.

Yeah, it sucks that MS charge so damn much for what is essentially a laptop HDD, but then, you're not forced to download everything. I for one keep my media on my server and stream it across, so really, its all the XBL arcade demo's that trash the space on mine!

Oh, and to Alan, yes, PC's may be able to play the latest greatest games, but only if you keep adding bits here and there. I got fed up of the constant upgrade cycle when decent graphics cards got as expensive as a whole console! At least with 360 et la, you don't have to check the back of each box to make sure you've got enough memory, cpu/gpu horsepower e.t.c. Buy it, stick it in, play it, job done. You don't even have to 'install' it if you don't want to!

Also, most of the decently specced Games PC's I've seen recently would struggle to fit under the telly where the VHS used to go.

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Freezes

Since adding this update my 360 keeps having random freezes, but seemingly just when going along the friends row.

Not seen any other mention of that though so I hope it's not a sign mine's on the blink.

Anyone else had issues yet?

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Gates Horns

Console pricing model

Isn't the whole console pricing model to subsidise the initial cost and then sting users over time for the content (games)? Consoles are supposed to be "buy and forget" items. introducing the pain of pc-upgrade requirements rather spoils things.

Perhaps the 20gb drive policy came from the same department that did the "vista capable" programme.

And they wunder why the Wii is so popular...

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Downlaod if you want it?

Yeah, but you have to download if you don't as well. I get two reminders every time I switch disk and you can't go on xbox live without this 'optional' upgrade. I like the interface so why would I want to change?

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Harsh

Bit harsh in places...I can't see the similarity with the PS3's or the Wii's. The PS3 is boring beyond belief, with a pita navigation and 2 different 'id' schemes. Luckily its a damn good and cheap bluray player. The Wii's is better, but extremely limited, and suffers from to much plain white. Good for the low res output though.

Both the old and the new xbox interfaces have been bold and colourful though, inviting you to play. The old one was too rounded and cheery and didn't suit the mass of content that the xbox provides. The newer one has toned it down a bit, and improved the handling of content.

Not sure on the avatars (though the customisability is far better than the Wii), they do seem a bit copycaty, and without a point.

I've always thought the xbox is a gaming machine first and foremost, I think the new interface does a good job of keeping that feeling, but making the extra's better integrated.

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To misquote 2001

"Oh my God... it's full of ads."

They should call it the New Advertising Experience.

Also, you still can't use an on screen QWERTY keyboard to send messages - I have no idea why Microsoft put the top row as ABCDEFG... maybe they have really weird keyboards at Redmond?

Avatars are pointless, if I wanted a Wii I'd buy one.

Installing games to the hard drive is great. But... my hard drive is 20gb so I've only got space spare for one game, and Microsoft can blow me if they think I'm paying £120 for a 120gb hard disk.

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Well I liked it...

I installed it yesterday and to be honest I found it distinctly non-offensive. The ability to install games on the hard drive has little effect at all on some games (for example Gears of War) other than the lack of disk noise, but others (Mass Effect) it loads with no percievable wait, even between levels and the texture popin appears mostly gone now as well.

As for the avatars, I didn't find it highly amusing to alter my mates Xbox live one after he'd gone out to an approximate rendition of Captain Shakespeare...

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So still no blu-ray?

I'd have thought a next generation experience would include the next generation disc, or are microsoft still adamant that 8.5gb is enough for anyone

i'm hoping they don't cripple any of they're top table games (pgr / forza ....) to fit on one dvd rather than admit that a larger storage device is needed

hopefully the xbox3 will be the home media hub microsoft keep on promising rather than the mess of versions the 360 has turned into

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Install to HDD

I installed Far Cry 2 to my Xbox's HDD, expecting it to improve loading times. Made no difference what so ever. Sure, the console was quieter thanks to the disk drive not running, but I wanted faster loading times. Now, is Far Cry 2 programmed in some rubbish way where it simply will not load faster, or is Microsoft's virtual DVD drive (which I assume is how it is done so games don't need modifying) only runs at the same speed as the physical one?

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Not overly happy with the new experience

Two things I really dislike about the New Experience;

i) Your starting point is always the Spotlight - Where I would prefer to be able to control my starting screen (e.g. My Xbox)

ii) Also they have removed the feature where when playing a game and a friend comes on, if you press the guide button in time you are taken to their profile so that you can invite them into your current game. This was a great feature when hosting games, as it makes inviting people quicker and easiler

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Like it

I quite like the new interface. I'm not fussed about avatars but you can always just ignore them. However, the whole thing looks a lot better and feels a lot faster and smoother.

The HDD install feature is absolute genius. Well done MS for introducing this. I picked up a 120GB HDD for £89 yesterday, which is a bit steep but, well, what are you going to do?!

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looks

rubbish, I'll stick to the old blades with their satisfying whooshp noise and the pics of Master Chief in the background...which is the only reason I bought the thing in the first place (though bioshock is good too )

Member of HAA since 2000

Halo Addicts Anonymous

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Gates Horns

microsoft support strikes again

I download the NXE last night, 2 minutes in my 360 restarted.. I then got a black screen with the message E68 hard drive failure.. Spent 30 minutes on "tech" support being asked all sorts of stupid questions unrelated to the obvious hard drive failure diagnosis, only to be told my 360 was out of warranty by 9 days.. thanks Microsoft!!

They told me I had to buy a new hard drive at silly costs even though they have an offer on the US 360 site for a a 20gb drive plus 3 months Live membership all for $29.99... again us uk gamers are screwed by MS.

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Meh

I explored the NXE last night but I must admit I wasn't that impressed. It hasn't brought much to the table.

I also agree with the previous posters about the absurd price of the 120Gb drives but hey, it will save me money by me not buying the drive and not buying any content.

Having said all that, I do use my 360 a helluva lot for playing downloaded movies (from other non MS sources) on a memory stick, probably as much as playing games.

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@alan

"that aside, the whole thing sounds crap, to put it bluntly."

So you haven't actually used it then?

Yes, the whole thing is a bit cutesy, but the party chat/invite thing makes the update a success in my opinion.

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Anonymous Coward

Reply to Alex D

So I take it you bought either a massive bundle or you bought an import, seeing as the Xbox was £279 when it first arrived on these shores!!! I know I had and still use my original first day release 360. As for NXE why are people comparing it to the Playstation dashboard or the Wii thing!!! This is something that is vastly improved on either of those very poor excuses (BTW I have owned both before anyone starts with the Fanboy quips...morons that they are.) The ability to have a party chat with more than one other person is something that has been required for ages, a couple of gripes, the inability to remove demo arcade and full games where your gamerscore is 0. Also still waiting for the alledged TV on demand we were promised about 18 months ago.

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Gates Horns

Some complaints

Generally speaking, I like the new interface, and I like the avatars as well.

I have several problems with the new dashboard though:

1- My friends list (In the actal dashboard, not the guide) keeps making my console crash. The only way to fix it is turning it off and turning it back on again, which is a pain in the arse.

2- The Xbox Live Marketplace is a little buggy. Sometimes it takes too long to load, and often it doesn't even load at all.

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Gates Halo

Cheapest console

There there guys, the Xbox consoles are dirt cheap for what they give. You can pick up an arcade console now and get a refurbed harddrive for next to nothing from Microsoft.

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/11/18/nxe_xbox_offer/

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The update RROD'd my Console

Any one else have this happen?

Down the plughole it goes ... (I mean back to Game).

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NXE, XMB, and Blades, oh my...

Couple of things.

I totally agree that the current situation with Disks is stupid - as an original 20GB purchaser, I find myself with only 3GB spare, not even enough for a single HDD Game install, but there are a few things coming up to lessen the blow.

First, Microsoft are offering a choice of either a free 512MB Memory Card or a 20GB HDD for $20 for owners of diskless Core and Arcade machines:

http://www.xboxstorageupgrade.com/hh/web/home/hhauthentication.jsp?ssLocale=en_GB

Second, coming out tomorrow, is the £50, 60Gb Starter kit - this includes, amongst other things, a 3 Month Live subscription and a 60GB Hard Disk. Given a 3 month live subscription is worth around £15 (And you can use the code to extend an existing subscription by 3 months), you're getting a 60Gb Hard disk plus other goodies for £35, which I suppose is a livable price...

http://www.game.co.uk/Xbox360/Hardware/Accessory/~r338570/Xbox-Live-60GB-Starter-Kit/

I've been playing with the new interface all night - you may not like the style of it, but one thing everyone will like is the responsiveness - The old blade interface was creaking at the seams, and most users I'm sure got fed up of seeing the little xbox icon, waiting for stuff to load just to get playing.

So far, NXE Has been almost instantaneous on all fronts - each section loads very quick, no waiting for boxes to populate, and the re-jigged marketplace is much better at handeling the ever-increasing amount of content it now holds.

Owning both PS3 and 360, I'd say NXE is a worthy rival for XMB - it may be a little less stylish, but in terms of function, the two are pretty much on par.

...Besides, It's not like you've got a choice to stick to the old Blade system.

So far, the only problem I've had is that the system locked up when pressing the back button from looking at the friends section a few times - anyone else had that happen?

Disclaimer: I'm not a Microsoft Shrill - Just a gamer who was up all night testing this, and wanted to spare some others from the research.

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@ Alex D

How much did you pay for your Xbox? If you did pay 400 quid for it, then that is your own fault! The 20 gig models have never been higher than 279.....

As for the interface, I like it. Apart from the fact the old interface was getting cluttered as the marketplace got to popular, there was never much wrong with it, but nice to see work still beign done, and the install option is a god send...

Yes, 20 gig user can only install 1 or 2 games, but how many do you play simultaneously?

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NXE

Well, I like it! :)

Having the 120GB HDD has finally paid off!

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Any drive?

I don't own an xbox but is it not a matter of buying any ide drive and screwing the thing in? I replaced the drive in my PS3 with a cheap drive of ebay. Only took a couple of minutes.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: NXE

Yeah, it's a fairly weak update for those not in the US.

International content licencing is difficult, yes. But you can licence content from *local* broadcasters for any given territory pretty easily, so for instance Channel 4 would no doubt love to provide advert funded content from 4oD to the Xbox (mixing it into the party system so you and your mates could watch a programme at once and talk about it is a nice potential feature), but Microsoft UK have no resources to build such a feature and Microsoft US doesn't care. Hence the problem isn't the licencing - it's Microsoft's lack of effort.

And you *still* can't do something as basic as buy MS points to pay for DLC with a Maestro card. Really.

Oh, yeah, and it's true enough that the 120 gig drive is horribly overpriced.

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M
Coat

Also,

Nice reference to Snow Crash.

/mines the one with the samurai swords in the coat room of the Black Sun.

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Gates Halo

Sony beware !

Microsoft have been VERY smart in the way they've developed the Xbox Live experience. Both Microsoft and Sony use their consoles as loss-leaders, but the overall Xbox online experience wipes the floor with the PS3 equivalent. This is what will make the big bucks for Microsoft over the next few years.

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NXE

In fairness it's a significant improvement over the blades, which were not only ugly, but painfully slow. I just hope MS offer equivalent features on both sides of the pond. It does seem to be throwing content errors left right and centre at the moment though.

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Nice!

The update is nice, much less radical that I expected. Probably because the avatars don't feature quite as much as all the hype would have you believe. The updated look and feel is a lot more contemporary, and agreed - it is something of a cross between the Wii and PS3 UIs, and a good one at that. I always found the Wii way too simplistic, NXE is just about right.

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Gates Horns

60GB Starter Pack

If the 120GB is over budget, they have also just released the brilliant value 60GB Starter Kit which consists of a 60GB HDD, Headset (which you'll probably have anyway), Ethernet Cable (which you'll definitely have anyway) and 3 Months Gold Live Subscription (which again you'll probably have anyway but is a nice top up.

I think it's only priced and the ridiculous sum of £60... with games running at up to 9GB that's an extra £7 a game for the privilege of running it from your hard drive.

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Happy

Drive onwards!

Anybody who pays more than the £70 Blockbusters is charging for the 120gig HDD deserves to be called a plonker. So with the current bundles doing the rounds, you can get a 120gig enabled Arcade with an extra wireless controller and 3 games for £200. Which is still only 2/3rds the cost of a PS3. Are you sure you meant "hardcore" in reference to PS3 owners and not just "fools with their money"?

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Gates Halo

Sony's high road

Sony are of course at liberty to prevent X360 users from streaming their movies. Perhaps they don't trust Microsoft's security? :LOL: Actually it's a bit of a piss-take when WMP will happily talk to your PS3 over DLNA and when Sony basically rely on DevStudio to provide a decent IDE for PS3 software development. Maybe Microsoft should block the SN Studios plugin in a future revision and use that as leverage. But ... no ... actually Microsoft don't tend to get that petty.

On the subject of the high-ground, note that you can upgrade your PS3 with any standard-sized SATA drive with nothing but a screwdriver and without paying Sony a penny. You don't have to pay a fee for the online stuff either. But that's boring and you know all this already.

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Coat

Installing it broke my Xbox.

Got offered this update 2 days back, seemed to install just fine, when it restarted, it played a flashy movie, then.... nothing.... Now it just boots up to a blank screen. It's got power on it, but the display is blank. Rebooting/Resetting, removing the hard drive does not fix it.

Phoned Microsoft, and because it's outside warranty (by 7 days), and not a RROD, they want £180 to fix it. Not amused.

Avoid NXE until they fix the bugs.

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Huge blocks flying right at your FACE

The new interface really makes me cherish the old one, the Wii interface, and the PS3's. Instead of having actual text that's easy to read, lets make them sort through big graphical blocks, and have everything come at you slightly slanted just to make things even more difficult to read!

Brilliant!

Hate it!

The fact that they *force* you to create an "avatar" instead of making it an option like everywhere else when I just wanted to sit down and play a @#%^! game with someone also made me want to throw the controller through the screen.

They get an MS rating for Massive Sucktitude.

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Mostly an improvement

The only problem I have with it so far is that the excellent "Inside Xbox" from the old version hasn't translated well to the NXE. The simplicity of a little orange icon that tells you there's new stuff to read seems like a better option than a massive coverflow of confusing images and truncated text.

Also the recent additions to the marketplaxce seem slower to navigate. As a result I'm finding it a lot slower to check up on the recent additions to live. Given that the whole aim of the NXE was to make the dashboard more of a place to explore what you can do with your console I find that surprising.

Maybe I just need to get used to it. Only time will tell.

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Rob

alan

i've had my 360 for a couple of years now, at the time it cost me about 200 quid and it's enabled me to play games, as the developer intended, ever since, don't try to tell me that if I'd spent that 200 quid on a pc two years ago, it would still hold up like a 360 does, sometimes you just want to put a game in, and have it work, why bother spending 400 on a cheap pc when you could spend 200 quid on a basic laptop for your emails web etc and an xbox for your gaming,

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NXE is a vast improvement over the blades

I'm pretty happy with the NXE so far - okay the UK doesn't have the Netflix part but everything else seems to be an improvement. The way you can now delete games with 0 GS from your gamer history is a godsend, and it seems faster navigating through past achievements too.

@ Alex D - where the hell did you pay £400 for your xbox? The launch price was £280 max...

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Of course there are ways..

To get certain £30 120gig laptop drives to work...

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Stop

I would tell you what I think of it...

...but when I turned my Xbox on to download the update, it decided to RROD on me.

Now I get to wait a few weeks while Microsoft bash it around a bit and call it fixed.

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media playing is p**s poor

I had a 360 Elite, the black one, that comes with HDMI output and a 120GB hard disk.

I plugged it into my network thinking i could access all the music and movies on my Western Digital NAS Harddrive since i got that running a upnp media player.

What a waste of time. It could not see half the list of movies, and then could play very few.

Xbox movies mean DRM'd and paid for movies, forget anything else that you could happily play on your PC.

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*grumble*

All my unrated video on my PC (family vids) now require a Parental Control passcode to view, despite allowing Unrated video in the options.

I have to enter my passcode twice to sign in (each time a different UI style splash asks for it) if I do it via the dashboard, but only once via the guide.

My 4yr old son's account has adverts! Some of these were not appropriate, so we hit "block content" in the console options. Now the marketplace is empty when I'm logged into my adult account!

The XBox crashes when I look at the friends list details in the dashboard and then go back to the friends list.

No replies on their Tech Support forum to the two threads I made on different issues.

Telephone support left me on hold for half hour and then hung up on me before I even got to speak to a person ("Max", the call-steering computer, is a cretin).

New XBox Experience? Not been good so far.

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