The biannual Xbox 360 dashboard update is finally upon us,
and new in this Spring edition are a plethora of new features. The one that
Microsoft seems to be most proud to advertise is the integration of Windows Live
Messenger into the Xbox 360 Dashboard, allowing gamers to text chat while
gaming, listening to music, or watching videos.
Xbox 360 users can chat with up
to 20 contacts in a single conversation, and have up to six different
conversations at the same time with people on PCs, mobile phones and other Xbox
360 consoles. Current relationships on Windows Live Messenger and Xbox Live are
now unified on Xbox 360 and users can see at a glance if their existing friends
on Windows Live Messenger have gamertags.
“Bringing the largest IM community in the world, Windows
Live Messenger, to Xbox 360 makes sense, as Xbox Live has really become the
largest social network on television," said Jerry Johnson, product unit
manager of Xbox Live at Microsoft. "For our growing community of 6 million
on Xbox Live, using Xbox 360 is a very social, connected experience. They are
using Xbox 360 to play games, music and movies while simultaneously
communicating with one another through video, voice and text chat. With this
announcement we are simultaneously expanding the access of Xbox Live users to
existing friends and family while introducing Windows Live Messenger users to
the benefits of Xbox 360."
To further facilitate easier text entry on the Xbox 360,
Microsoft will release sometime in the summer a QWERTY
keypad attachment for the Xbox 360 controller. Perhaps the most effective
solution is to plug a USB keyboard into the console, which is now an officially
supported feature of the Xbox 360. Those without USB keyboards or the keypad
attachment will have to enter text using a virtual on-screen keyboard.
features aside, gamers will be happy to know that the Achievement system is now
more informative. Achievements will now pop-up, notifying the gamer of the name
of the achievement and the value, without the need to manually check the list.
Also, now the Dashboard will identify which game is in the DVD-ROM drive,
rather than simply displaying the “Play Game” text it previously did.
new Xbox Live Marketplace “blade” has been added to better focus on
downloadable game content, TV shows and movies. Great news for those who
frequent the Xbox Live Video Marketplace is progressive download control
letting people fast-forward, rewind, pause and resume as their video is
downloaded. Furthermore, extension of the background download functionality
will allow owners to set their Xbox 360 console to turn off automatically after
downloads are complete.
to Xbox Live Arcade allow owners to quickly see which 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. A new option in Auto Downloads will provide faster access to the entire
collection of free, trial-version Xbox Live Arcade games.
on the side of Xbox 360’s video playback is support for H.264 and MPEG-4 codecs, though unfortunately for DivX downloaders,
the Xbox 360 will only natively support the WMV and MP4 containers—not
AVI or MKV.
The Spring Update is now available to every Xbox 360
owner through Xbox Live or on Xbox.com.