The most obvious changes you’ll see are to the interface. Microsoft blew up the “blades” and has pretty much started from scratch. While some organization and navigation conventions will feel vaguely familiar, the look & feel is vastly different. Some have said it’s more efficient and better organized, though I’m not so sure – perhaps a couple years of muscle memory is holding me back.
The first thing you’ll want to do is create an avatar. While I’ll still not entirely sold on the concept (or point), here’s my first, best, and only attempt at a virtual DZ. Once you’ve gotten past that, Netflix subscribers who have Xbox Live Gold membership should immediately download and sample the video player. (You’ll also want a remote.) It’s a pretty nice experience, other than the limited fast forward and rewind functionality, especially due to the introduction of select high definition movies and television programming. Though, competitor Sony (PS3) may be playing licensing hardball. Speaking of downloadable content, the Xbox Marketplace is now available on the web – view your history and purchase new stuff: videos, games, themes.
Last, but surely not least, of the notable new features is the ability to rip games to the hard drive. I highly recommend this for titles you plan to invest significant time in – Call of Duty World at War in my case. While you’ll still need to keep a game disc in the drive for authentication, it’s not going to spin up with considerable noise while you play. I assume it also reduces load times.
Once you’ve taken the New Xbox Experience for a spin, let us know in the comments what works for you and what MS muffed. And if you’re looking for a bit more guidance, check out Gizmodo’s Top Ten List or NewTeeVee’s summary of Netflix streaming.