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Xbox 360 Spring Dashboard Update Hits Wednesday

xbox 360 dashboard messaging

The long-awaited Spring Update is finally set for launch tomorrow (Wednesday), with the headline feature being all-new Xbox Live integration with MSN/Windows Live Messenger. This is the third such major dashboard update in the life of the Xbox 360, and contains a long list of new features – but it’s ultimately the weakest of those three releases.

Being able to instant message while gaming, watching movies or doing whatever else on the 360 is certainly a nifty feature, but isn’t going to be worth taking advantage of for the average user – at least not until the mini-QWERTY keyboard is released. USB keyboard support is being added, but unless you’re sitting fairly close (or wireless keyboards are supported), you’ll be stuck typing with the virtual keyboard. And from having sent hundreds over messages over Live, let me say that using that is nothing short of an exercise in patience.

In addition to the IMing capabilities included in the update, the following features have been added:

  • On-screen pop-ups that immediately display the name and gamerscore value of a just accomplished Achievement, allowing gamers to see their progress without leaving or pausing the game. 
  • An even safer way to communicate through Xbox LIVE with enhanced family settings that enable different default settings for video chat and voice chat.
  • A new, standalone Xbox LIVE Marketplace blade houses all Xbox LIVE Marketplace content in one easy to navigate space.
  • Xbox LIVE Arcade enhancements that showcase what games friends are playing directly from the friends list. Boasting about high scores, comparing progress and checking out leaderboards are all easier now as well.
  • Faster access to free, trial version of Xbox LIVE Arcade games through an improved Auto Downloads feature.
  • The ability to fast-forward, pause and rewind video as it is being downloaded on Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
  • Owners can now set their consoles to turn off after downloading content from Xbox LIVE Marketplace to help save energy, and download speeds have been increased.

The Marketplace blade will certainly be useful, but what Microsoft is really trying to do is simply make it as easy as possible for you to hand over those Microsoft Points. But the new Achievement notification will be sure to go over well, especially with me, as I’m the type of person who always checks out what achievement I just unlocked - even if I’m in a multiplayer game.

For more details on the free download and a full list of features, check out this page on Xbox.com.


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Xbox 360 Spring 2007 Dashboard Update Video

If this one is a fake, it’s a darn good one. The guys over at MyGamerCard.net are saying this was leaked on Gamespot, and subsequently pulled, but not before it was downloaded and placed on YouTube for our benefit. What you will find above is a video walkthrough of the Xbox 360 Spring 2007 Dashboard update. Claiming that it will be released on May 7, 2007, it boast quite a few new features, including:

  • Ability to add up to 600 Windows Live Messenger contacts to your Friends List.
  • Text chat with up to 6 Live Messenger contacts at once during games or movies.
  • The Marketplace will be getting its own Dashboard Blade.
  • The Marketplace will be skinned independently of the Dashboard, for special events.
  • The Marketplace will be getting a new, easier-to-navigate remake.
  • Achievement Pop-ups will now display how many points and which Achievement you have gained.
  • Low-power downloading (fans off) and auto-off after finishing queued downloads.
  • View partially downloaded video files.

What we like most? The fact that you can start watching movies files before they finish downloading, along with the fact that when you earn an acheivment, you get the details in the pop-up notification instead of having to hit the guide button for the full scoop. Everything else seems to be fluff for the most part, unles you have tons of Windows Live contacts. Our main question? Where the hell is Internet Explorer?

Let us know what you think of the video in the comments.

Read More | MyGamerCard.net

Xbox 360 Fall Update Hits Tomorrow, Adds 85 New Features

Xbox 360

Alright Xbox 360 owners, with the launch of the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii around the corner, Microsoft is doing what they can to make the Xbox 360 look just a tad more impressive this holiday season. Tomorrow the Xbox team is releasing the second major dashboard upgrade since the release of the Xbox 360 last year, in the Fall System Update. Some of the more impressive additions are 1080p output for both movies and games, and the ability to stream video (WMV only, though) from any PC running Windows Media Player 11 or Windows Media Connect. Here is a list of all the new goods:

Expanded HD Display and Video Playback Options:

  • With 1080p resolution, gamers now have the ability to enjoy both game and video content in the best HD resolution currently available.
  • Expanded video playback options increase the ways gamers can enjoy video content on Xbox 360. It is now possible to stream WMV video from a Windows PC running Windows Media Player 11 or Windows Media Connect.
  • Gamers can now play video files from data CDs and DVDs, as well as from storage devices like USB 2.0 flash drives and Xbox 360 Memory Units.
  • Xbox 360 will support 50hz HDTV display modes, providing viewers greater choice in how they watch DVD and HD DVD content.

Xbox Live Arcade Enhancements:

  • Keeping up to date on Xbox Live Arcade games is now even more convenient with the ability to automatically download newly released Xbox Live Arcade trial games. This eliminates the need to manually search for new downloads on Xbox Live Marketplace each time a new game trial is released.
  • Fast enumeration of games: you’ll see the games in your Xbox Live Arcade collection appear almost instantly. Get in and play right away.
  • With so many games to choose from, Xbox Live Arcade added new sorting options such as “Recently Played” and “By Category.” These enhancements make managing Xbox Live Arcade collections faster and easier than ever.
  • A new expanded Friends Leaderboard within Xbox Live Arcade allows gamers to compare themselves directly against their friends and view leaderboard details of their top 10 friends.
  • A new expanded Achievements View within Xbox Live Arcade lets gamers view their full Achievement details for their Xbox Live Arcade games including descriptions, icons, allotted Gamerscore and more, right from the Xbox Live Arcade dashboard interface.
  • The “Play Now” launch feature has been streamlined. Selecting “Play Now” after downloading a game in Xbox Live Marketplace now bypasses Xbox Live Arcade and takes you directly to the game.
  • Xbox Live Arcade now offers a “Tell a Friend” feature. Select this option from the game info screen to send any friend on your friends list a message telling them about the Xbox Live Arcade game.

XNA Support:

  • Amateur game designers will be able to test and play the games they create using XNA Game Studio Express on their Xbox 360 systems when it launches later this year (separate download and subscription required).

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