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Microsoft squats the living room with XBox LIVE refresh

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Microsoft today rolls out the latest edition of XBox Live today complete with new dashboard and a bunch of media partners.

Microsoft's press release is all about the media content, but gamers may be more interested in the better voice chat quality, improved Gamertag creation and the ability to sign-out controllers in the sign-in UI.

This is "especially useful when playing games like Rock Band," says the Xbox official blogger Major Nelson.

Now for the content line-up: which includes Last.FM, Facebook, Twitter and, presumably for the UK only, Sky Player. US subscribers, get ESPN.com and Netflix.

Sky Player delivers 32 channels for TV and film on demand and is available to Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers At the same time, Microsoft is expanding Zune content services big time.

From today Gold Members can, for £8.99 get a Zune Pass subscription, which means all-you-can-hear-streaming to your TV. They can also access Zune Movie marketplace for HD on demand movies. There are also download and streaming rental options for watching films by Windows PCs and Windows 7 Phone devices.

Today, Microsoft introduces the Xbox LIVE Gold Family Pack, bundling four individual memberships for £69 The package also includes access to a new Family Centre for monitoring and controlling what the kids are up to. The price for one month's Gold access rises from £5 to £6 today.

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