Spring Fever: New Features Unveiled for Microsoft Xbox 360

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft officially announced the Xbox Dashboard Spring Update this past Monday: a move that is sure to ignite spring fever among the game console's millions of users. Headlining the update is a new Xbox 360 accessory -- a QWERTY text-input device will directly connect into the Xbox 360 controller and will support text and instant messaging capabilities. (Source: itwire.com.au)

Scheduled to be launched on May 7, the new add-on will enable Xbox 360 users to access the Windows Live Messenger service through their game console, allowing gamers to identify each other by tags and communicate via text, video, and voice. The new service will connect friends not only across Xbox 360 consoles, but also through Windows-based PC's and Windows Mobile-powered devices. (Source: talkbox.com)

Currently, Xbox Live community members (six-million strong) send over two million voice and text messages in a single day. The newly announced update will provide the technology for members to IM (instant message) with up to six people at a time, all while playing games, listening to music or watching movies (talk about multi-tasking!). (Source: talkbox.com)

Microsoft's initiative to enhance and expand Xbox 360's IM capabilities signifies a new trend to offer more augmented services and capabilities in gaming consoles. Microsoft is moving towards consoles being not only used for games, but also into the realm of overall family entertainment.

This move also displays the potential of making traditional computer functions available through Xbox 360. Nintendo's Wii and Sony's PS3 already provide web-browsing capabilities through their systems. It also signifies the potential possibility that other computer functions (such as word processing and photo editing) will also be made available through gaming consoles. (Source: itwire.com.au)

Additional Features

Extending further than the headlining Windows Live Messenger capabilities, the Xbox 360 spring update will include hundreds of other features and enhancements, such as:

  • A richer Achievement notification pop-up will showcase the name of the unlocked Achievement and the gamerscore value without needing to leave the game to check the Achievements list.
  • Enhanced family settings features for Xbox Live communications enable different defaults for video chat and voice chat.
  • A new Xbox Live Marketplace blade lets Xbox Live members access the content they seek -- whether it is game content or TV shows and movies (available in the United States) -- from one place on Xbox Live.
  • Updates to Xbox Live Arcade allow owners to quickly see which Xbox Live Arcade games their friends are playing and join in the fun. Xbox Live members can also compare progress of leaderboard scores and Achievements directly with all friends on their friends list.
  • Expanded "Tell a Friend" capabilities make it easier than ever to boast about Achievements and high scores.
  • A new option in Auto Downloads provides faster access to the entire collection of free, trial-version Xbox Live Arcade games.
  • New progressive download controls provide easy access to optimal viewing options by letting people fast-forward, rewind, pause and resume as their video is downloaded from Xbox Live Marketplace. (Source: blog.wired.com)

Beginning June 6, the free spring update will be "digitally distributed over Xbox Live to all members (Xbox Live Silver and Gold) with no disc or hard drive required to take advantage of the plethora of new features." (Source: xbox.com)

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