Windows Live Messenger Goes Live on Live

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The Windows Live Messenger network is bound to get a little busier on Wednesday when Microsoft makes it available to 6 million Xbox Live users for the first time. The software will arrive as part of the Xbox 360’s Spring Update.

Xbox 360 users will be able to chat with friends as they play games, listen to music, or watch TV and movies downloaded from the Live Marketplace. Right now, options for text input are the on-screen virtual keyboard or simply connecting a standard USB keyboard. Later this summer, though, Microsoft will launch its own text-input accessory that will connect directly to the controller.

Unlike the PC version of Windows Live Messenger, the Xbox version will only be able to handle up to six simultaneous different conversations – but that’s probably all most people’s fingers can take anyway. On the plus side, Live users will be able to tell at a glance whether contacts have gamertags (Xbox Live usernames).

Other changes from the Spring Update include beefed up family settings, an automatic download feature for free trial Live Arcade games, and the ability to fast-forward, pause and rewind video as it downloads from the Xbox Live Marketplace.