Hands on with the Summer 2009 Xbox 360 dashboard update

Microsoft is readying an update to the dashboard software that runs on Xbox 360 game consoles, as well as the Xbox Live online service, and we were able to download an early version for a test drive.

As first outlinedat the E3 video game industry trade show in June, Microsoft is readying an update to the dashboard software that runs on Xbox 360 game consoles, as well as the Xbox Live online service.

While it's not as radical a change as the fall 2008 dashboard update that added avatars and Netflix streaming, there are a lot of improvements to current features, as well as a few new ones. The dashboard update will be available for 360 owners on August 11th, but we were able to download an early version for a test drive.

Included were notable features such as the Avatar Marketplace, for buying (via Microsoft Point micro-transaction) clothing and accessories for your avatar, and the Netflix Party Mode, for watching a streaming Netflix movie along with online friends.

Missing from our early download, however, were the much-anticipated Twitter and Facebook apps, as well as the Games on Demand service for Xbox 360 games. Currently only older original Xbox games are available (also not available -- any of these Five classic adventure games that need to be re-released as digital downloads).

Click through to the gallery below for our walkthrough of some of the new Xbox 360 dashboard features.

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