New Xbox 360 Dashboard update now live

Today Microsoft is rolling out their new Xbox 360 Dashboard with Kinect support, new media features, and some security changes. But despite some of the long-awaited improvements, some hardcore gamers and modders are already voicing their displeasure with the update.

New Xbox 360 Dashboard update now live

The update was announced by Microsoft’s Larry Hryb this morning on his Major Nelson blog. Among some of the features Hryb highlighted in his post are:

* Netflix search: An addition to Netflix app, allowing users to find content that isn’t immediately browse-able on the 360.

* ESPN:  Users are now able to stream sports games, clips, and shows from ESPN and ESPN3.com. These include college sports from outside your local and regional area and real-time scores. The service will also integrate voice chat.

* Zune Music: Allows the purchase of music from the service a la cart or buy a Zune Pass, which includes unlimited access to millions of songs for a $15 monthly subscription fee.

* Parental controls: Parents can turn on a feature called “family programming,” which is supposed to disable all mature content on the dashboard and suggests family-friendly entertainment.

This updated dashboard will also fix some issues that early Kinect adopters were experiencing late last week when attempting to play their new games before the official launch date.

But the new look for the Xbox 360 isn’t getting a warm reception from some hardcore gamers. According to Tom Pakinkis over at CVG, “This isn’t just a case of the Xbox sticking on a bland sweatshirt – with its flat, grey boxes – it’s the dumbing down of a console in preparation for the casual gamer.”

And if you have modded your Xbox 360, be aware that there are some new security checks on games with this new dashboard that will flag your console for the next wave of bans. You can, of course, not update to the new dashboard, but you will lose your Xbox Live functionality.

I haven’t checked out my 360 yet today to see the new dashboard in action, but I know that at least the ESPN streaming will be a feature that is appreciated in my household. If you’ve checked it out, let us know your first impressions in the comments.