Today, a Zune branded 1080p instant-on streaming content has been announced by Microsoft among other things and will debut in 18 countries. Facebook users can now link their account their Gamertag, and games will support Facebook Connect for sharing content online. Twitter and Last.fm are also included in the deal. Adding to that, Netflix users will now be able to browse the entire catalog instead of simply loading their queue, and Microsoft has bandaged their “Party Watch” system, so you’ll be able to watch videos with your online friends. Last but not least, there’s now live TV streaming for UK and Ireland gamers, who’ll get Premier League soccer live from Sky.
“The new Party Watch system works like the following: [Below from Engadget]
- Video startup is nearly instantaneous because of the back-end proprietary Microsoft technology developed by Zune that seamlessly transitions between many different bitrates and resolutions of video.
- Video playback will start at a low bitrate for fast download time and then ramp up to a higher bitrate and quality, up to 1080p with 5.1 audio.
- Features such as smooth fast forward and rewind that users have only seen before with local physical media.
It doesn’t stop there. Other news coming out of E3 for Xbox LIVE Video Marketplace:
- Social: We unveiled Movie Party, a feature where you can go to the movies with your friends whether you are sitting on the same couch or in living rooms across the country. Starting this year, you can share a virtual theater, see your Avatars (a virtual you) on the screen – all while you listen to each other laugh and cry together at the movie through voice chat on Xbox LIVE.
- New Regional Partners: Now, for the first time Xbox LIVE members in the UK and Ireland can watch live or on-demand TV with BSkyB on Xbox. Never miss a moment of your favorite live TV shows, sports, movies and family-friendly entertainment – even share your favorites with up to seven friends in an Xbox LIVE Party.
- Global Expansion: The 1080p streaming HD Zune video experience on Xbox LIVE marketplace is expanding to 10 new regions this year, making movies and TV shows available in 18 total countries including US, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, and New Zealand. (Note: content and partners vary by region)”
BUT IT DOESN’T STOP THERE!
XBL will also be adding a Games on Demand Marketplace on August 30th to sell full games online that match retail price. Here’s the best thing-you won’t have to use a XBL Point system. That’s right, just enter that credit card and pump out some games.
Anyways, the most important, most amazing, most astounding feature of today, has to be Project Natal. Project Natal, that being a small black box which sits below your TV similar to the Wii’s yet bigger, will handle multiple users and will detect every move you make, like kicking a soccer ball with your feet, or punching something with your hand. No controller will be needed. No released date so far.
Video of the device can be found at Engadget.