Checking Out The New Zune Video Marketplace for Xbox

xbox-pillowsSure, the latest Xbox Live update was good, but it left out all the really interesting bits, like videos on demand, Facebook and Twitter integration. Today, Microsoft gave us a sneak peek at those features – I just hope I can wait until around Christmas when they're due to launch...

The Xbox team had their 360 hooked up to the US servers for the demonstration, which meant that we actually saw the video being streamed live. The movie started streaming almost instantly, although it was a bit blocky and jagged at first. But within seconds, it was a beautiful HD picture. MS were raving about this scalable feature - and rightly so - as it means that the movie will always run, and only quality will fluctuate if your bandwidth is chewed up for some reason. Apparently it'll work on a 3-4Mbps internet connection instead of the 8Mbps minimum they mentioned a few months ago.

The Facebook integration looks kinda cool in terms of both viewing photos and also being able to see which Facebook friends are also on Xbox Live. The Twitter integration seems a little less useful, but I'm sure tweeters will find some way of sharing their latest gaming adventures with the world.

The other thing to come out of the showcase was a lot of hinting that we'll be seeing something very similar to the Sky integration with the 360's UI the UK and Ireland are getting. Of course, they wouldn't say anything concrete, so call this unconfirmed in every way, but I've got my fingers crossed for some Foxtel partnership offering their catchup TV service through the Xbox. That would be awesome.

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