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A Fistful of Features in the December 2007 System Update

Published November 30, 2007

It's that time of year again. The December 2007 system update brings a bevy of improvements to your Xbox 360® console. Interested? Read on.

Xbox LIVE Marketplace
Xbox LIVE® Marketplace leads the list with another facelift and more content for your downloading pleasure. 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 juggled around a bit, with Spotlight and New Arrivals appearing front and center (well, left, but you know what I mean). You'll notice the "twist" interface in many places now, to help you find items more easily.

The new face of Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

The new face of Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

As you may have heard, there's now a new category of downloadable games, Xbox Originals. These are original Xbox games, just like what comes on a retail disc for the original Xbox console, now available for download with Microsoft Points. You can find Xbox Originals games, Xbox LIVE Arcade games, and game demos in the Game Store.

Additionally, full-screen video previews are now available, and the Play Now button on the download screen is now available for all content.

Xbox LIVE also has loads of new features. Check this out:

  • 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.

Family Settings
A new family timer joins the robust set of console controls in the Family Settings area of the System blade. With the family timer, parents can set a daily or weekly time limit for console playtime.

Timer notifications in-game.

Timer notifications in-game.

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 (ask nicely, kids) 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.

The Games blade has also received a facelift.

Find all of your downloaded games in your games library.

Find all of your downloaded games in your games library.

  • Xbox LIVE Arcade and Demos have been moved under a new Games Library area, alongside Xbox Originals and XNA Creators Club games. You can think of the Games Library area as the spot for all of your downloaded games.
  • The Friends Playing Now feature, which used to list only Xbox LIVE Arcade games, now shows all game types. Want to find friends playing a certain game? Head to Games Library and select Friends Playing Now.
  • When you send Tell a Friend messages (available after selecting a game in the Games Library), the resulting message includes a new button to go directly to that game in Xbox LIVE Marketplace so you can easily select and download the game.
  • Xbox LIVE Arcade fans: we heard you. Trial games no longer show up on your profile. No more zero-gamerscore trial games on your played games list! (This applies to games loaded after the update; unfortunately, previously-played trial games will still be listed.)

The Media blade hasn't escaped rearrangement, either. The Music, Pictures, and Video areas now remember the last storage device you chose (for example, console or disc), so it will automatically display that device's contents the next time you enter the area. To switch to another source like a portable device or PC, press X on your controller.

This change has also affected how you connect and disconnect from your PC using media sharing software like Windows Media Player 11 or Zune. Instead of selecting a PC that will be the connected PC from then on, you can now just switch by pressing X, just like any other source. This also means that you no longer use the System blade to disconnect from your PC. (This doesn't affect your connection to Windows Media Center. For that, connecting and disconnecting methods remain the same.)

The Video area on the Media blade has the following improvements:

  • You can now sort movies and TV shows by title or download date, view a list of TV shows by series, and access game videos and trailers in a single list. The "twist" interface has also been added to this area.
  • The Video area can now display video suggestions from Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
  • New shortcuts:
    • Press Start on the controller or Play on the remote to play a highlighted video without going through the menus.
    • Press right and left bumpers to skip chapters, and right and left trigger to rewind and fast forward.
  • Video support now includes AVI and MPEG-4 Advanced Simple Profile.

For many of you, I've saved the best for last. Two long-awaited account functions have been added with this update: Windows Live ID switching and child account promotion.

Windows Live ID switching: Did you sign up for Xbox LIVE with a Windows Live ID that you no longer use? Want to use Messenger on your console with a different Windows Live ID? No problem. You can now move your Xbox LIVE account to a different Windows Live ID. There are a few things to consider before moving your account, so check out Switch the Windows Live ID for Your Xbox LIVE Account for full details.

Child account promotion: Until now, Xbox LIVE accounts that were created while the member was under age were still flagged as a child account even after the member turned 18. These accounts can now be "graduated" to a full-fledged adult account, removing Family Settings and lifting child account restrictions. The promotion is fully voluntary, since you have to perform some account maintenance as an adult. For more information, see Promote Child Account to Adult.

Both of these functions can be accessed by pulling up your gamer profile and selecting Account Management. Child account promotion is only available on child accounts where the owner has reached the age of majority.

More Info
Truth be told, this list is just the tip of the iceberg. There were over 300 individual changes in this update, many of which were improvements in performance and support in various areas. For more info about this update, see the official press release.

And have fun with the new features in the update!

Article by Elle

©2007 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved