Microsoft squats the living room with XBox LIVE refresh
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.
Sky Player, Facebook and Last.fm (not sure about Twitter as I don't use it) have all been on the UK XBox Live dashboard for ages.
There's not that much content in this update for us in the UK. Audio codecs are OK, but nothing else particularly interests me - except possible the Kinect additions that are bound to be in there.
Not a big update for the UK, I'm afraid.
Family pack could be useful but I've never been convinced by the movie streaming.
I know this makes me old-fashioned but why pay for a film for 24 hours when you can buy a DVD at around the same price that you can keep, play in the car (for the kids, of course), take on holiday, watch elsewhere in the house, etc. etc.
I like physical product (if the rice is right).
Not happy about the increase...
Good job i bought a 3 month subscription a couple days ago, saved £3! =]
Got the update ...
... and am singularly unimpressed with it.
The UI is as useless as is was before, except the Games Marketplace is now a complete mess and it's even HARDER to find what you want there before (they've cleverly hidden the XBLA games another menu deeper, they used to have their own category before)
The new color scheme hurts my eyes - and premium themes are as bad a deal as they were, with big flaps of UI covering them for the most past.