Xbox Live transforming this May

Improved Marketplace

Microsoft is really pushing the Xbox 360 as a multimedia center in addition to a gaming device. As such, they're streamlining the process of finding, downloading and watching entertainment as much as possible:

- The Marketplace will receive its own blade on the dashboard, to the left of the still default Xbox Live blade.
- Downloading large media, such as HD movies, should be faster. No exact details on how much faster.
- Downloading will be more convenient with a new shutdown mode. The console switches to a low power mode, downloads your queue and then turns itself off completely.
- The Marketplace environment will be richer and more varied, as studios and networks will receive their own sections. They can even customize dashboard backgrounds and embed videos within their areas of Live.

Everything Else

Many of the tweaks promised were of the welcome but minor variety, fixing tiny annoyances you may not have even realized were annoying you. They must have been irritating someone, however, as Microsoft claims to have resolved 1,600 user-ticketed issues for this iteration. Here are a few examples:

- Our favorite: an improved Achievement Unlocked notification that shows the name of the Achievement and how many points it netted you. No more interrupting a game to scroll through annoying menus to see what you did.
- Second favorite: the generic "Play Game" menu choice will actually display the name of the game in the disc drive. Obvious, but long overdue.
- Get the trial version of every Xbox Live Arcade game in one bundled download.
- Send canned messages to your friends about what you're up to in the Xbox Live Arcade. Tell them what game you're currently into, brag about how many Achievements you have in it and show off your most recent accomplishment.

Fall Update 2007?

We asked the Microsoft folks about a few improvements we're still waiting on. Here are their responses:

- Larger friends list? It will grow eventually.
- Purchasing games and media in pre-packaged bundles at discount prices? Should be a part of Live after the Fall update.

April 9, 2007

Charlie Barratt
I enjoy sunshine, the company of kittens and turning frowns upside down. I am also a fan of sarcasm. Let's be friends!