Monday, April 9, 2007

Xbox 360 Spring Update

Recently there's been some new details released about the 360's next dashboard update, due out this spring. On May 7th, users connected to Live will get the update on their console and Microsoft has revealed some new info on what the new update can do!

First off, is Messenger. According to Microsoft many users are rather lonely when Live is first setup. Adding messenger contacts to your Xbox 360 friends list will help their gamers get familiar with Live and it will also be able to show who on your friends list has a gamertag. People can now add up 600, count'em...600, messenger friends to their Live account. As of May 7th, Microsoft will only allow text-based chat with messenger accounts. Microsoft has hinted at new enhanced features for this in the latter part of the year, such being: audio and video. You'll be able to chat with 6 of your friends at once while playing games or watching a movie, little dialog boxes will pop up over anything your doing to allow the user to switch whenever they please. With this new addition of Messenger to your Live account, comes the updates on your Windows Live Messenger, when you're playing a game it will update and read "Xbox 360: [the game you are playing]: [your gamertag]." You will also be able to set your gamertag and Windows Live Messenger account status independently of each other, allowing you to appear on or offline to certain groups of users.

With that all being said, Microsoft has announced a new text input device for the 360. It connects via the headset input it lets you chat with your friends using a keyboard roughly the size of a Sidekick. No offical name or price has been announced.

The Marketplace will now have it's own seperate blade on the dashboard. The new blade will be themed independently from your own set of themes and will change looks constantly to cooperate with the season, holidays or special content!

Of all the announced additions to the spring update comes the most major tweak, but also very very minor. It's in the achievements, and now instead of it popping up and saying "Achievement Unlocked". Once an achievement in unlocked it will display the same message but with the Gamerpoint value and the name of the achievement! No longer will gamers have to switch to their guide to see what they just unlocked.
Finally for downloads, the console will receive an auto-shutdown feature and a low-power downloading mode. If you have an existing queue of downloads that you want to run overnight, you'll be able to shift the console into a low-power mode that turns off all the fans. Once the 360 finishes the last of the file transfers, the console will automatically turn off. The new download tools will also let you view partially downloaded video files. You'll even have access to the usual fast-forward, rewind, and pause functions. The video player will also allow for switchable aspect ratios (letterbox, zoom, stretch, native, and auto).
That's it for this round!

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