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Microsoft Adds 1,080p to Xbox

Microsoft said a fall software update for its Xbox 360 will allow the forthcoming add-on HD DVD player accessory to output 1,080p high-definition video to compatible HD displays.

The update adds over 85 enhancements to the game console, including the ability to play WMV files from a connected PC, disc or USB storage device.

Currently, the gaming console only supports streaming video from connected Windows Media Center PCs. After the update has been downloaded, the console should accept streaming video from any connected XP PC equipped with Windows Media Connect or Windows Media Player 11, Microsoft announced during a press conference in Japan last week.

Microsoft plans to launch the HD DVD add-on drive later this month at a $199 suggested retail price. For a limited time, Microsoft will offer purchasers of the HD DVD drive a free copy of Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” from Universal on an HD DVD disc.

Other added features in the update include: support for 50hz HDTV display modes, providing viewers greater choice in how they watch DVD and HD DVD content; automatic downloads of newly released Xbox Live Arcade trial games; new game sorting options; an expanded Friends Leaderboard and an expanded Achievements View that lets gamers view their full Achievement details for their Arcade games; and a streamlined “Play Now” feature that bypasses Arcade and goes directly to the game.

Xbox Live Arcade also now offers a “Tell a Friend” feature, allowing gamers to send any friend on his friends list a message telling them about the Arcade game.

The free update will be distributed via the Xbox Live online gaming and entertainment network to all Xbox Live Silver and Gold members with no disc or hard drive required. Gamers without an Xbox Live account can sign up for free by connecting their console to a broadband Internet connection.