Newer, Faster Xbox 360 Dashboard Due in 2009

What's slate gray and phosphate green and slow as a stack of plates wrestled through radioactive ooze? If you said the Xbox 360's dashboard, 10 points. 15, if you specifically invoked the word "guide." That's because the dashboard--the space where you kick around the Xbox 360's colorfully cool little panels on vertical or horizontal axes--is actually pretty consistently breakneck.

The guide, on the other hand, isn't. It's that slightly curved (but mostly rectangular) panel that pops up, center-screen, whenever you thumb the glowing green X in the middle of your gamepad. It's also your shortcut to anything, the place you go to fast-quit a game, answer or issue chats, check achievements, shuffle music, even turn the system on or off. Most days, it's nice and quick, but some days--and I know each and every one of you will attest with me--it's a total train wreck, like trying to shuffle a deck of card underwater while swimming through an oil slick in a scuba suit.

Good news, according to Microsoft's Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb, who told VG247 in a podcast that an upcoming Xbox Live system update is positioned to notably boost the dashboard's performance. (Direct link to podcast.)

"We are making the guide faster," said Nelson, adding that the development team has managed to tweak the performance all around. "Whatever we call it, and it's not going to be called the NNXE, but whatever the next version of the dashboard is called, it's better with a lot of very cool new features."

The update's due out later this year, according to Nelson.

Other "cool new features"?

Me, I just want a better way to surf the dashboard's X-axis. I'm constantly veering slightly up or down and falling off track entirely. Thing is, when you want to get to the system options (on the far right side of the My Xbox menu setting) your tendency is to thumb-tap quickly (isn't it impatience that's a virtue?) leading to momentary bouts of dizzying incompetence.

See how I make this about me, not Microsoft?

Let me remedy that slightly: The current menu system forces you to slow down too much just to surf accurately, which by the time you back up and move across all the panels again has already doubled (or trebled, or in my case, even quadrupled) the amount of time you ought to spend getting from X to Z. Also: I don't have this problem moving up/down or across the PlayStation 3's similarly oriented XrossMediaBar.

So guide button speedup, enthusiastic check, but hopefully there's been a rethink on the navigation process as well.

Oh, and while you're at it Microsoft? How about--see pic below--a dashboard update that turns your car into this.

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