On Monday, in a move that further pushes the Xbox 360 ahead of the
Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft revealed that it's connecting its PC-
based Windows Live Messenger to the Xbox 360, letting users of both
maintain a single contact list and chat with one another online via
either the console or the service. Connecting Windows Live Messenger
to the Xbox 360 requires Microsoft to release an update for the Xbox
360, which the company said will be available the week of May 7.
"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 Microsoft Xbox Live
product unit manager Jerry Johnson. "For our growing community of six
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. 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."
Microsoft noted that more than 260 million people use Windows Live
Messenger, and by connecting it to the Xbox 360, users will be able to
perform various IM-related tasks on Windows-based PCs, Windows Mobile
devices, and Xbox 360 consoles. The initial Windows Live Messenger
integration on the Xbox 360 will allow for only text-based chatting
with as many as six participants using a virtual or USB keyboard,
although Microsoft plans to add video chat by the end of 2007.
Currently, Xbox 360 users have a friends list that's tied to their
Gamertag, an online identity that provides readily available
information about users' gaming achievements. After Windows Live
Messenger has been connected to the Xbox 360, Xbox 360 Gamertags will
be combined with Windows Live Messenger accounts (typically via
hotmail.com, although live.com accounts should also be available soon)
and users will have a list of combined Windows Live and Xbox
Live contacts on their Xbox 360s, PCs, and Windows Mobile
The Windows Live Messenger integration is part of a wider spring 2007
update for the Xbox 360 that will also include richer in-game
achievement notifications, improved family settings, a new Xbox Live
Marketplace blade in the Xbox 360 dashboard, various updates to the
Xbox Live Arcade, and new download options that will let the console
enter a low-power mode and automatically download updates overnight.
The spring 2007 update will be made available to Xbox 360 users for
free via Xbox Live, Microsoft said.