The Xbox 360 controller gets a QWERTY keypad for messaging

Despite clearly having PC roots, Microsoft has always wanted to distance the Xbox console from the desktop computer. Because of this, the Xbox consoles never received official keyboard and mouse accessories, despite continued gamer requests. In contrast, Sony has never been shy from adding PC peripherals to its consoles. The PlayStation 2 supported USB keyboard and mice, which is carried over to the PlayStation 3.

Now, it looks like Microsoft is finally softening its stance on the keyboard issue, though the mouse still remains taboo. First seen in a GameSpot story (that now no longer exists on the site), are renders of an Xbox 360 controller with a QWERTY keypad attached.

Reports say that the QWERTY keypad will be its own separate accessory that will attach neatly to the bottom of the Xbox 360 controller, though it is currently unknown exactly how the device will latch on and interface with the controller. From the pictures, it appears that the keypad will cover the port on the bottom of the controller used for the headset connection. Release date is set for the summer, but pricing has yet to be announced.

The purpose of the QWERTY keypad add-on is likely the rumored addition of Windows Live Messenger functionality into the next Xbox 360 Spring Update.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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