Xbox 360 Upgrade Includes On-Demand Gaming

Microsoft unveiled a number of significant upgrades to its Xbox 360 platform with the latest Xbox LIVE Update. While the update is available today, a few of the new features won’t be available until tomorrow, August 13th. Here’s a quick look at what you can look forward to with the update.

Games on Demand
Starting tomorrow, you’ll be able to browse and purchase games through the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. New game titles will be added every Tuesday, and your game licenses will be linked to your Xbox LIVE account, so you’ll be able to download your purchased games to any console you’re logged into. No disc will be required to play these games and Microsoft has also said that you can delete and re-download games if you run out of space. You’ll also be able to view, download, and print game manuals.

Avatar Marketplace
The new Avatar Marketplace will let you browse and purchase Avatar apparel through the Xbox LIVE Marketplace starting tomorrow. Avatar Props (animated items your avatar can interact with and carry around) as well as branded apparel from various fashion labels will be available.

Netflix Tweaks
Microsoft has tweaked its Netflix feature and has improved the user interface to help you find content faster and add titles to your queue directly from the Xbox 360 instead of logging on from your PC. Other features include an improved playback experience and richer information in the Friends channel to show what you and your friends are watching. There’s also a new Party Watch feature that lets you catch a show with your friends.

Microsoft also pointed out that it has an exclusive partnership with Netflix to allow you to stream movies and TV episodes from Netflix to the TV via the Xbox 360. According to Microsoft, Xbox 360 will be the only console that will offer this movie-watching experience, which will be available to Xbox LIVE Gold members who are also Netflix unlimited plan subscribers.

Other Tweaks
The Xbox LIVE update comes with a number of other service changes such as improved party invites, user ratings, account management and recovery options, video display options, user ratings, user interface improvements, and a reorganized Console Settings menu. Microsoft provides a full list of the new features here.

Finally, Microsoft gave us a peek at some upcoming features, with integration for Facebook, Twitter,, and Zune Video coming this fall.