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Joystiq tour: Xbox 360 Spring '07 Dashboard update

As promised, we updated the old Xbox 360 this morning and in (literally) less than 30 seconds, we were tooling around the Spring '07 Dashboard update, checking out the Marketplace blade and fiddling with the new Windows Live Messenger integration. Everything seemed to work according to plan, except a ghost from our past came back to haunt us: Xbox 360 annoyance number 10.

You see, you can't change the Windows Live ID linked to your gamertag. Like, at all. You just can't do it. You can't do it on their website. You can't call up 1-800-4MY-XBOX and do it. Why? Microsoft says, "Your Windows Live ID credentials are permanently linked to a specific Xbox Live enabled profile. You cannot break this link." This was a minor annoyance before; however, now it's been elevated to a full-blown frustration. Good thing we don't use Windows Messenger at Joystiq HQ.

While we spent time testing out the Windows Live integration, our buds at Engadget tested out the update's enhanced video capabilities. They were pleased to report no trouble playing back several flavors of H.264 and MPEG-4 content, declaring the Xbox 360 the winner in the digital video living room arena (take that AppleTV!). But enough talk, have at our illustrated tour of the Xbox 360 dashboard update:

No. Wait, I meant yeeessssss ...

Wow, that was fast. Seriously, it was so fast we missed snapping a shot of the update bar. Like, 10 seconds max. Note, the first new feature: it displays the game in the tray! Second: "Chat and IM".

Select it and you get a fancy little box with your Gamerscore for that title and the related achievements.

However, no such luxury is available for the chronically forgetful HD-DVD owners out there.

Xbox 1 games have their titles listed as well, with a little silver Xbox-y logo that reminds you, "Hey! This game doesn't have achievements. You should really play something else." Not quite the "image of the game" that we were expecting, but suppose it'll do.

The new Marketplace blade. Everything's neatly stored right here, and easily accessible from it's own blade.

Selecting "Chat and IM" from the Xbox Live blade brings you here. Under Messenger, you can set up a Windows Live Messenger account with your Xbox 360.

"Welcome to the future of online communications." This is it, folks. Everything is different from here on out.

Save password, please!

There it is. But here's the problem. I don't use this email address for anything. It's a dummy address I made when I created my gamertag since, unbeknownst to me and billions of others, you can't change the Live ID you have linked to your gamertag. At all.

The new Messenger tab.

Yeah, I know. Remember, they're all attached to another Windows Live account (namely, my nearly decade-old Hotmail account).

You can enable or disable the auto sign-in feature for Windows Live Messenger. A good thing if you want to prevent friends and co-workers from realizing just how much time you spend playing Catan.

I added a friend to test the service out with: CheapyD from Cheap Ass Gamer.

"Neat. It says ... you are on Xbox 360 Dashboard." That is neat.

Note, the title of the game and my gamertag are listed alongside my entry in Cheapy's Windows Live Messenger window.

Gamepad typing is as laborious as ever. Wondering where that sexy little transparent IM screen they keep showing off is? You'll have to wait for the thumbpad accessory to drop before you can activate it.

Even though his Gamertag is matched to his Windows Live ID ...

... I can't send an IM through this section of the Dashboard.

An IM popping up while in the Dashboard ...

... and in a game.

Promoted all over the Dashboard: new videos explaining all the great new features in the spring update.

We'll keep poking around. Anything incredible we managed to gloss over?

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