For those that know me, I rarely speak badly of Microsoft. To the point that people think that I never speak ill and that I think that “Microsoft's sh*t don't stink.“ Well, here goes...
OK, last week Xbox subscribers received an email stating that the Xbox service (and Xbox.com) would be down on the 24th to upgrade preparing for the Xbox 360 launch. So you think to yourself “not too bad, 24 hours and there will be some new goodies to look at.”. You wait patiently as they upgrade process occurs, except you have to wonder why *EVERYTHING* is broken at the same time. Xbox Live... down. Xbox.com... down. MSN Messenger tab... down. MSN Alerts... down. Wow... this is going to be a *HUGE* upgrade you patiently tell yourself. Can't wait to see what is coming...
After a 26 hour upgrade process, what are we left with?
New Xbox.com website that is all 360ified. Click on over to the My Xbox “tab” and you see, well... here you go:
Coming Soon ... My Xbox on Xbox.com
Very soon you will see unprecedented integration between Xbox Live, Xbox.com, and the Xbox Forums.
You'll be able to:
- Create a gamer card
- See your Xbox Live Friends List
- Join the Xbox community in all-new forums
- Earn cool forum icons </UL>
- To add/remove gamertags on you friends list from the web.
- To see *ALL* games that they've played and when they've played them. Not just games that add support for the gamer card features (similar XboxFriends).
- To see when each gamertag actually plays on a regular basis (similar XboxFriends).
- “Find Friends” feature using advanced searching criteria as game genre, specific games, playing times, gaming style, language, ESRB rating, etc. </UL>
Before the upgrade, I had access to my Xbox Live Friends List... not only via the Xbox.com website but also via MSN Messenger. Jump over to MSN Messenger...
The Xbox “tab” is still there. Let's see if I can see my friends list. Nope! And guess what?!?!?! No mention of *ANY* kind that that feature will be returning or is missing in action within that tab. It's nothing but advertising! I repeat... WTF!
Going to the MSN Alerts section, selecting the little pencil icon takes me to a page on the Xbox.com website that states:
Looking for something at Xbox.com?
The page you tried could not be found. You may have used an outdated link or typed the URL incorrectly. You may find what your looking for here:
Now as someone with 3 Xbox's, 2 *active* Xbox Live accounts, over 130 games, more controllers than I can shake a stick at... this continues on with my already placed order for an Xbox 360 (the $399 version), extra controller, batteries, play kit and 5 games... I think I have every right to be a bit ticked off! This doesn't even include the hundreds of emails I'm receiving from people asking *me* about why Xbox.com (and thus XboxFriends) isn't working...
You know, this probably isn't going to get me to abandon Xbox... but I have to tell you that this is *NOT* the way to handle an upgrade. At this moment in time, it's a complete downgrade. They've taken away a feature that I (and *EVERYONE I KNOW*) personally use each and every day. Does this mean I play on Xbox Live every day. No. What it does mean is that I'm now not unable to see when my friends are playing so I can take a well deserved break and jump on to get some instant gaming gratification with people that I have little opportunity to do so otherwise. Without this feature, my only course of action is to stay connected to Xbox Live via an actual Xbox... and who knows... maybe that power cord I was supposed to replace will catch my house on fire.
The bottom line is that this upgrade serves only one target audience at this point. It is clear that that particular audience is way more important than the audience group I'm in. What group am I referring to? The audience they are targeting with this “upgrade” is new customers. Existing customers... the ones who are already loyal and have been singing Xbox's praises... well, they can wait a bit longer. How long? “Coming Soon...” You know, Xbox 360 is coming soon... and that's November 22nd. So the only clue how long it will take? “And when Xbox 360 launches, there'll be even more great features!”. OK, so we should see a return of at least the web version sometime between now and November 22nd.
I'll leave this to another day for a more complete ripping, but I will say at this point that the previews of what is coming is nice... but not unprecedented. To gain that label, I'd like to see the following features (at a minimum):
Basically, I'd like to see everything that can be done from the console available via the web portal. I'd also like to see additional features available via a web portal that can take advantage of having advanced input devices (keyboard and mouse... albeit they are older technologies, they are a bit more advanced than a console controller in relationship to data manipulation). Some of these features can even be opt in... that way any legal concerns are handled.
Obviously, I appear to be a bit ticked off and, as I stated, I believe I have every right to be. Xbox.com screwed up seriously on this. This isn't to say that everything Microsoft does (including Xbox) is now suspect, just that in this particular example, they lacked some serious substance. Even when the features are launched, it's already tainted. Sure, maybe not to the hordes of new Xbox 360 / Xbox Live customers they will be gaining, but to many *EXISTING* customers... we now know where we stand. They've got our money... and it's not like there's any alternative... so why cater to us.
On an unrelated, yet somewhat related note...
Oh yeah... and how complicated does a console and game connection feature need to be to garner a book titled “Xbox 360 for Dummies“? Which, if you follow that link, you'll see the following quote in the editorial reviews:
“Microsoft's Xbox now accounts for 37 percent of the consol market, “...
OK, they have 37% of us and this is how we are treated... Sheesh.