Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Xbox 360 Fall Dashboard Update  

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The updates are in three main categories, first in the list is downloadable games - that's your Xbox Originals and your Xbox Live Arcade Hits.It's expected it to be more of a portfolio-style system than a library service. Don't expect every one of the 465 back-compat Xbox games to suddenly appear in the Marketplace, but they will have six games to kick the service off – Crash Bandicoot: Wrath of Cortex, Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge, Halo, Fable, Fuzion Frenzy, and Psychonauts.



The second part of the updates is the social functionality - Inside Xbox. Where available, there's a brand new news feed on the Xbox LIVE blade called Inside Xbox. Select this button to view the latest news about Xbox, games, and Xbox LIVE. To accommodate the new button, Friends and Messages have been combined into one button on the Xbox LIVE blade.
Personal Profile. Gamer profiles have been expanded to include the member's real name, location, and bio. Use this area to let people know more about you. Don't worry, it's all optional. You can reveal (or not reveal) as much or as little as you like.
Friends List. On your friends list, a highlighted friends row expands to show more info about them.
Friends List Sharing. You can now view other people's friends lists. Open a person's profile, select the Personal Profile tab, then select View Friends. Your friends list is automatically visible to everyone if you're over 18 (friends only if you're 13-17, and no one if you're under 13), so be sure to check your privacy settings (or Family Settings) if that's not what you want. You can do that right now on Xbox.com, if you prefer.
Messenger. You can now add messenger contacts from your console. Also, our younger members will be happy to know that Messenger is now available for child accounts where the owner is age 13 or older.

Last but not least the third update - Parental Timer, where parents can set a daily or weekly time limit for console playtime. For example, a parent can set the timer to a limit of two hours of play per day for the family. As the two hours come to a close, a notification pops up warning the child of the remaining time, so they can finish up. When time is up, a Family Timer screen appears, prohibiting further play.
At that point, the child can shut the console down, or hand the controller over to the parent to extend playtime or suspend the timer altogether. The next day, the timer resets and a new two hours of play are available for the day.
Also improved in Family Settings is support for international movie ratings for video downloads, and videos streamed from PC. There are also some notable updates on the video side. Small update: full-screen previews. Megaton update: MPEG-4 Part 2 video codec support. Specifically, MPEG-4 Part 2 ASP (advanced simple profile) and SP (simple profile) in an AVI container. What this basically means is that users should find that most of their DivX and Xvid files will work because they're under that umbrella of the MPEG-4 Part 2 codec.
Other notes:Video Marketplace has been renamed to the Video Store, which is joined by the Game Store on the Marketplace blade. The Clips category has been expanded and renamed to Shorts. Categories have been switched around a bit, with Spotlight and New Arrivals appearing front and center.

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