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New Xbox LIVE update goes live

Gamers can now experience a new and improved Xbox LIVE experience including SmartGlass tablet and phone integration, new Apps like Internet Explorer web browsing, and a sleek new look.

In our recent Xbox LIVE Update article we took a look at the new features that Microsoft added to the Xbox 360's online service, ranging from helpful and convenient additions as well as a stylish new UI. Now gamers can experience the new Xbox LIVE for themselves after firing up their console and downloading the new update. After using the update and exploring the additions firsthand, I personally have a few gripes about the update, such as Internet Explorer's limited web video playback.

The Internet Explorer Troubleshooting page on Xbox.com has this to say about the app's web browsing limitations:

"Like many mobile devices, Internet Explorer on Xbox does not support browser plug-ins. If a webpage use a plug-in such as Flash, Java, or Silverlight, the webpage may appear blank or notify you that a plug-in is required. If you experience this issue, follow these steps to configure Internet Explorer to request the mobile version of pages you visit."

While Microsoft didn't make claims that the Xbox LIVE IE App would be able to play any video on the web, it is kind of a let down that it doesn't support all of the necessary video plugins. This can sometimes be remedied by changing the settings to "request mobile version of webpages", however, allowing some content to be played back. IE browsing seems to be made for viewing most websites in terms of pictures and written content, however YouTube, Dailymotion, and other basic video sites are easily played back.

And let's face it, it's awesome to be able to surf the web via your television set.

Besides the minor Internet Explorer issues which may very well be absolved with later patches, the new Xbox LIVE interface is convenient and very easy on the eyes. Players can now find what they're looking for with the UI's basic tile setup, and with the new Pin feature, gamers can "pin" their favorite apps, games, and even web pages to their homepage.

Microsoft also provides an innovative new feature that allows players to use their SmartGlass tablets or phones to navigate, control, and view certain parts of the Xbox LIVE interface as a second screen, such as the Internet Explorer web browser. Kinect voice control is also supported via IE, providing a unique hands-free browsing experience. In terms of security, parents can restrict access to certain websites with the Safety feature to guard their children from unwanted content.

Overall the new Xbox LIVE update is impressive and shows Microsoft's ingenuity and attention to detail. While the Internet Explorer browser doesn't deliver the full dynamic web browsing experience that a computer does, it comes close and still has many of the same features. With Smartglass device interactivity, the new Pin ability, and a cohesive, easy-to-use interface, the new UI is a welcome change of scenery to the Xbox 360's online experience.

Derek Strickland
Derek is an avid fan of gaming and everything geeky, and is compelled to make his mark in the field of games journalism. When he's not gaming on a console (everything from SNES to X360) you can find him reading about ancient civilizations or enjoying a fantasy epic or two.

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