From the screenshots GamerScore Blog they will be. The NXE(New Xbox Experience) still supports all the dashboard themes and gamerpics. Supposedly you're not required to use the avatar.
First let me say, that I really liked the blade dashboard interface. However, it was getting bloated, cumbersome and didn't take advantage of all the screen real estate. So, it was very difficult in finding content in Marketplace and the Games Library(Live Arcade, etc). With that said I'm all for fixing those problems. So if that means replacing the blades, then so be it. Remember all the feature requests and fixes we all wanted? Remember all the rumored updates that was suppose to be in the Spring update? Can you seriously think all that could be done with the blade interface without making it worse? I don't think so.
Microsoft saw that the market was moving into a different direction than how they originally visioned the blade interface. This change is due in part to the popularity of the Wii and PS3. Believe it or not they have some influence. The amount is up for debate, but there's no denying they have an effect. I'm glad Microsoft saw that and took the initiative to revolutionize the experience.
The question is now: does the NXE succeed in fixing the problems and adding new features we want? I can't say for sure, but I think it's heading in the right direction. A lot people complain about the avatars, but personally I'm glad they're offering such a new experience. It will bring more casual gamers to the platform and that's always good. If the system stayed stagnant and was just always a hardcore platform then the system would have failed. Something had to be done to combat the unique elements of Wii(Miis, channels) and PS3(XMB, Home). I personally don't see how the NXE is a direct copy of either of those. It looks more like a progression of Media Center with a big influence from Apple TV Take 2.
What about the new features?
* Play from hard drive - I absolutely love this idea. Kudos to Microsoft for offering this! Yes, I know most complain about the need for the disc. But they had to do something to combat piracy. I do however see them improving this as time goes on. I could see them offering DRM for the disk that's associated with your GamerTag and system. That way you can transfer the license from the disc to the box. This way you no longer need the disc.
* Access to the Marketplace via the Xbox.com web site - About time! Now I can see what's available and queue up downloads remotely. Thank Sony for implementing that feature or we may not have gotten it.
* Live Party - About time too!
Just chatting one-on-one cross game wasn't enough. Can't wait for this. However, it looks like it will only be voice and text. No mention on how video plays into it. I understand why they can't do 8 people video chat, but it would be cool if they offered 2 or 4.
* Live Primetime - Sounds neat. I always thought they would have something like this when PGR3 first came out with Gotham TV. Plus, remember they announced last March to bring unique original TV shows. I'm sure this channel will be used for that.
* Avatars - Like I said before, I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully I'll be able to dress my avatar as Batman. Ideas that were thrown around was that games could use achievements to unlock items for your Avatar. Also, supposedly other companies other than Rare will be able to make avatars too. There's a lot of opportunity here for cool stuff.
Finally, to all the complainers out there about the NXE. I'm sure most of you were also the ones who complained about the many failings of the blade interface too. You can't have your cake and it eat too. If you admit that things needed to be seriously fixed, then have an open mind when you first try the new update. Because after awhile you might actually realize that the change was well worth it.
That was a great post! i agree completly, wish more people would post there opinions like this!
the new theme, i agree looks bland as crap....but...i hate the MIIc hannel shit, and unfortnatly became accustomed to the ps3 XMB
nothing compares to UnleashX (where the hell is my old xbox...)