Windows Live Messenger Hits Xbox 360

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Now there is little reason to leave your sofa. Starting the week of May 7th, and packaged in the spring update for the Xbox 360, Windows Live Messenger will let users chat cross-platform, whether it’s from their Xbox 360 game console, Windows-based PC or even a Windows Mobile powered cell phone.

Windows Live Messenger currently has more than 260 million active accounts, and this new version will allow the 6-million Xbox LIVE members to send text and voice messages using the Windows Live Messenger software.

“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.”

So just how will you text each other using your Xbox 360 console? Well, you have a couple options. First you can opt to use the on-screen virtual keyboard currently available on the Xbox 360, or you can simply plug a USB keyboard into the system and message people that way. Microsoft is also planning to announce a new QWERTY device which will connect to the Xbox 360 controller and which will support text and instant messaging.

Other features of the Spring update are outlined below:

· A richer Achievement notification pop-up will showcase the name of the unlocked Achievement and the gamerscore value without needing to leave the game to check the Achievements list.

· Enhanced family settings features for Xbox LIVE communications enable different defaults for video chat and voice chat.

· A new Xbox LIVE Marketplace blade lets Xbox LIVE members access the content they seek — whether it is game content or TV shows and movies (available in the United States) — from one place on Xbox LIVE.

· Updates to Xbox LIVE Arcade allow owners to quickly see which Xbox LIVE Arcade 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. Expanded Tell a Friend capabilities make it easier than ever to boast about Achievements and high scores.

· A new option in Auto Downloads provides faster access to the entire collection of free, trial-version Xbox LIVE Arcade games.

· New progressive download controls provide easy access to optimal viewing options by letting people fast-forward, rewind, pause and resume as their video is downloaded from Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

· Extension of the background download functionality will allow owners to set their Xbox 360 console to turn off automatically after downloads are complete.

The Spring Update is free beginning the week of May 7 and is easily accessible to every Xbox 360 owner through Xbox LIVE or on Xbox.com.

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