Xbox 360 users will be able to tap into the Windows Messenger network of more than 260 million people worldwide by 7 May, Microsoft has revealed.
Microsoft announced the launch of Windows Live Messenger for the Xbox 360, along with other new improvements and features as part of its Spring Update.
Currently, the six million members of the Xbox 360 Live Community can text chat amongst themselves but this new service will mean that they can now chat with Messenger users on PCs and mobile platforms.
Xbox 360 users have a unique “gametag” identity that they will now be able to associate with Windows Live Messenger so all types of Messenger friends will be able to tell if they are connected via Xbox Live and what game they are currently playing.
“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 Jerry Johnson, product unit manager of Xbox Live.
“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,” said Johnson.
Xbox 360 users currently input text chat using the virtual keyboard on the console or by connecting a USB keyboard but a new QWERTY text-input device has been developed by Microsoft.
This device, which will be launched in summer of this year, can be snapped on to the 360 wireless controller. It looks like the mini keyboard of a PDA and has backlighting for visibility at night.
Among the other updates available for Xbox 360 on 7 May will be a power-saving feature for game downloads. This feature will allow for automatic shutdown of the console after downloads have completed.
By Marie Boran