By Vamien McKalin | Oct 19, 2012 01:29 PM EDT
Internet Explorer 9 is finally usable by everyone who owns an Xbox 360. The recent Dashboard update brought quite a few things to the table, but the most apparent feature, is that of Microsoft's long running Web browser.
We've been giving the browser a spin since the new Dashboard update went live, (you can read Our Thoughts On The Latest Xbox Live Dashboard Update) and from what we have seen, Internet Explorer 9 on the Xbox 360 is ok-ish. There are quite a few good things about this browser, but compared to say, the PlayStation 3's Internet browser, Internet Explorer 9 falls a bit short.
The first thing you'll notice when you fire up Internet Explorer 9, is how similar it looks to the Metro version of Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8. The design aspect is almost the same, broken down to fit a touch-centric environment and one that lacks a mouse and keyboard.
You might be wondering - how can the browser be designed for touch if the Xbox 360 doesn't support touch screens? That's a good point. However, the Xbox 360 does support Kinect controls, and those control works in Internet Explorer. Instead of constantly parrying around with your Xbox 360 controller, simply use gestures via Kinect to navigate around. It works great; the only downside is you will be forced back to the controller to enter text in the URL bar, which is a bit shortsighted.
Unlike the PlayStation 3 browser, Internet Explorer 9 for the Xbox 360 does not support tabbed browsing. Instead, Microsoft opted to go with a Web Hub kind of thing that showcases recently visited pages, featured sites, and your favorites. If you want to have access to your favorite Web sites, it is best to add them to bookmark, and be prepared to go back and forth since tabbed browsing is nowhere to be found.
To access the Web Hub, simply press Y on your controller, and voila, all things are at your fingertips to command.
Typing with the onscreen keyboard is horrendous. The imprecise controller goes all over the place which means you'll be overshooting the letters you want on a regular basis. Bing's autosuggest is the feature that makes typing a little bit simpler, but it would be nice if users could get down and dirty with a keyboard.
The browser renders Web sites pretty well. Quite a lot better than the PlayStation 3 browser, actually. Some users might be disappointed in the lack of support for Flash content. Still, Internet Explorer 9 for the Xbox 360 is able to play back native video. You'll find that some videos on certain Web sites will work. Sites like Youtube and even a certain adult Web site that made the news when the owner stated this site supports video playback in Internet Explorer 9 for the Xbox 360.
Overall, Microsoft produced a good browser for Xbox 360 users. It is not great, and one can understand this due to the limitations of the console itself. Microsoft is definitely showing its hands on what the company is planning for the future and the next generation of Xbox. It is safe to say that Xbox has turned into an entertainment and services hub, and could potentially be one day powerful enough to replace a PC completely.