At this year’s E3 Expo, Microsoft announced an upcoming update for the Xbox LIVE service which will introduce a number of changes and new features, including integration with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, Netflix improvements, and updates to the Xbox LIVE service itself.
Now, thanks to the Xbox 360 System Update Preview program, you can sign up to be a part of the group that will get to test out the newest features before they go live for everyone. To do so, just fill out the "Xbox LIVE Update Preview Sign Up" survey found here on Microsoft Connect. You’ll have to answer a handful questions about where you live, your home network, your ISP connection, and few others so the Xbox Team can help pick out a good cross-section of users to be invited to the test.
According to Major Nelson, they’re looking for multiple thousands of participants, so your chances of making it in the test program are good. If you’re accepted, you’ll be notified via email within a week.
For more details about the updates included, see below:
- Queue Management: You’ll soon be able to add movies to your queue from the Xbox interface
- Movie Parties: Gold members will be able to organize Netflix viewing parties where avatars gather together in a virtual theater to watch a movie together. Here, the avatars can interact with each other – that is chat, or even throw popcorn at each other.
- Enhanced Playback: Playback has been optimized to be smooth even if your bandwidth fluctuates.
- Friends Info: More info is displayed in the Friends Channel and in the Guide to show you what your friends are doing.
- More clothing and props from the top brands and game franchises (like “Halo”) for your avatar. (Note that only limited content is currently available in the preview.)
- Props – You can now equip your avatar with animated items they can carry around and interact with.
- Awardables – The ability to earn Avatar clothing and props as rewards within games has been added.
Games on Demand
- 24 x 7 access to an online library of popular full game titles on Xbox LIVE whenever you want them
- Purchase Options – Full Xbox 360 games can be downloaded using Microsoft Points, direct debit, or credit card.
- Game Manuals – Game manuals for Games on Demand titles can be viewed, downloaded or printed on Xbox.com.
- Games on Demand titles are linked to your Xbox LIVE account, so you can delete and re-download anything you have already purchased to the same console or another console.
- You can now rate every game on the Xbox LIVE Games Marketplace using a 5-star system.
- You can easily find the games that everyone's been raving about by visiting the Top Rated games in the Browse All category of Xbox LIVE Games Marketplace.
Xbox LIVE Parties
- Party Reconnections – If you are accidently disconnected from your party, Xbox LIVE will automatically reconnect you.
- Streamlined Party Invites – Invites are now just one click away! No need to click through multiple screens to get all your friends together.
Video Display Options
- It’s even easier for you to watch in the highest resolution possible on your TV using an HDMI connection.
- Display Discovery – Makes sure you can see and hear your entertainment in the highest resolution and sound quality possible with the option to override and select audio and video formats independent of the information your television sends to your Xbox 360 console.
- Gold Member Veterans – Xbox LIVE Gold members get to show it off with a stamp on your Gamer Card that tells people how long you've been a Gold member.
- Indie Games – Xbox LIVE Community Games has been renamed Xbox LIVE Indie Games.
- Achievement Browser – The Achievements browser is now easier to read. You can now also launch a game directly from the browser.
- Achievements Tracking – A new view inside the profile panel which includes a summary of Achievements earned across all the games played, and shows of all your completed games.
- Streamlined navigation, including new entry points in the dashboard for Active Downloads, redeeming codes, recovering Gamertags and more.
- Voice Messages – No more blank voice messages! When recording a voice message, a warning will pop up if no audio is detected.
- Friends List Sorting – Find and sort your friends by activity, Gamertag or online status by pressing the Y button while viewing the friends list in the Guide.
- Memory – Time stamps now appear in the memory area, which particular handy when managing saved games.
- Subscription Notification – If your Xbox LIVE subscription is about to run out, you will now be notified when you sign into Xbox LIVE.
- Updates for Invalid Windows Live IDs – If the Windows Live ID you provided has expired, you will now be prompted to update it the next time you sign into Xbox LIVE.
- Account recovery is faster and more reliable.
For more photos from the update, check out Crunchgear’s online gallery here.