Microsoft's 'New Xbox Experience' To Launch Nov. 19

The interface behind the company's popular Xbox 360 gaming console is set for a major face-lift.
Microsoft said Wednesday that it is planning to launch a major overhaul of its Xbox interface on Nov. 19.

"On that day, millions of Xbox 360 owners worldwide will experience a completely new Xbox 360 that is fun, social, and simple to use -- and puts more entertainment at their fingertips than any other device connected to the TV," the company said in a statement.

New Xbox Experience, as the revamp is called, will feature a revised user interface that, among other things, allows users to cycle through options as they would if they were using Windows Vista's Aero interface. Available games, movies, and TV shows will be presented side by side and will be easier to find and access, Microsoft said.

A new feature called Xbox Live Party will let parties of up to seven people chat and share pictures over a television screen while simultaneously playing games. The Personality Plus tool will let users create customized avatars that will represent them throughout the Xbox world.

"When the New Xbox Experience launches in just six weeks, we will be inviting the whole world to play," said John Schappert, Microsoft's corporate VP for Interactive Entertainment, in a statement from the Tokyo Game Show 2008.

Microsoft is looking to maintain recent Xbox sales momentum in the face of stiff competition from Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii unit. The company last month slashed the price of its Xbox 360 video game console by almost 30% for some models.

The cuts saw the price of the entry-level Xbox 360 Arcade system fall from $279 to $199. The basic Xbox 360 model, which features a 60-GB hard drive, dropped to $299 from $349. The high-end Xbox 360 Elite, which includes a 120-GB hard drive, now sells for $399 -- down from $449.

In its most recent quarter, Microsoft reported that Xbox 360 total console sales surpassed 19 million units during the period, up 74% from the previous year.

Recent releases of hot-selling game titles, including Halo 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV, have helped spur Xbox 360 sales. Halo 3, an Xbox 360 exclusive, smashed game industry records when it debuted late last year -- including the record for most launch-day sales.