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Microsoft unveils new Xbox Live interface

New user-created avatars will be integrated into future games; games will launch from hard drive; Live Party system detailed

Microsoft has announced details of its new Xbox Live interface at this morning's E3 press conference.

John Schappert unveiled a new GUI - showing video, game, primetime, community and My Xbox channels replacing the current blades - complete with user-created avatars designed by Viva Pinata studio Rare.

Players will be able to customise the look of their avatar, which appears on the player's updated gamercard. Thousands of clothes and other content will be available via the Xbox Live marketplace.

These avatars will be easily integrated into websites and into upcoming games such as Uno Rush.

Microsoft demonstrated one of those avatar-driven games - 1 vs 100 - a multi-player quiz game coming exclusively to Xbox Live. Players can win real prizes in such games, which will be scheduled as part of Microsoft's Primetime.

According to Microsoft, gamers will also be able to chat with up to 8 of their friends simultaneously. Players will be able to form Live Parties, enabling the sharing of content such as videos and photos whilst playing games.

Following Microsoft's E3 conference, Major Nelson has posted a list of new features, which include:

Play from hard drive: Copy your games from the game disc and play directly from the hard drive. Not only will the drive not spin, but load times are quicker, as well. Of course, you will still need the disc in the tray to prove you own the game.

Access Xbox Live Marketplace on the Web: Browse and purchase Marketplace content whenever you want from and it downloads automatically to your console. Purchase that new map, television episode, the latest Xbox Live Arcade game or set up a movie to watch when you get home from work.

Dashboard built into the new Xbox Guide: For everyone who loves the blades interface, it’s not going away; they are now built directly in to the new Xbox guide. Every feature and option is available right from the guide. You can even access your full games library at all times. No matter where you are (in dash or in game), immediately call up your games played list and directly launch a game.

Live Party system: Create a party of up to eight friends, and stay with them from one game to another, or watch a Netflix movie together, or share a slideshow of your personal photos. It works with all Xbox 360 titles, not just upcoming games. Live Party allows up to eight people to chat in the dashboard, so you can meet up before playing.

Xbox Live Primetime: This whole new category of games is going to give you more reasons to get online with your friends. Games will support everything you’d expect, like Achievements and leader boards, but many of these games will include real prizes. You can invite your friends, and even set a reminder for an upcoming show. Each game is broadcast simultaneously, so everyone is answering the same questions. Many events will have a live host, calling the shots as they happen.

Avatars: Your online identity started as a Gamertag - it then grew into a personalized Gamercard. Now, it has evolved even further into avatars. You can express your style, check out new outfits and share this with the community. Avatars will also be integrated into Xbox Live Arcade games, Live Party, as well as retail games.

New display support: Because you asked for it, we are adding 16X10 over VGA or HDMI, and support for 1440x900 or 1680x1050.

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