For a long time now, Microsoft has made the rather lofty claim that the company’s XBox 360 was the biggest social network on TV. For the most part that was in reference to XBox Live – the games console’s online service – and its integration with Windows Live Messenger, Microsoft’s cross platform Instant Messaging service (Windows, Mac and mobile). Yesterday, however, Microsoft announced at E3 that the XBox 360 will soon be adding support for two competing social networks – Twitter and Facebook – making the XBox 360 undoubtedly the most socially networked set-top box, but not necessarily a Microsoft-owned social network the biggest one on the television. I’m not sure how Windows Live Messenger user numbers and Facebook’s compare in terms of cross-over with XBox Live membership but it’s nonetheless significant that Microsoft has chosen to embrace two competitors.
Interestingly, the Facebook integration won’t be one way. Not only will XBox 360 users be able to access a Facebook application providing the usual functionality (status updates, view friends’ news feeds, photos etc), but XBox Live will also incorporate Facebook Connect so that various activities can be posted back to Facebook e.g. in-game screen shots and footage. The User Interface for the Facebook app could do with some improvement, reports Gizmodo, which isn’t surprising considering that the social network’s feature set is fairly extensive and is rooted firmly in the PC, making designing the perfect “ten foot” UI challenging.
In comparison, Twitter’s minimum core functionality looks much better suited to the TV (see screen shot) and, accompanied by the XBox 360 gamepad’s thum-board QWERTY add-on, could work quite well. Both services to be supported through a software update “this fall”.
Other XBox 360 announcements yesterday of interest to last100 readers included improved Netflix functionality with full on-screen access to the service’s movie and TV show catolog, support for music streaming service Last.fm, and 1080p High Def content (download and streaming) through XBox Live’s newly branded video store now called “Zune”.