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Microsoft issues open letter to Xbox Live community

Company clearly wants to explain its full redesign of Xbox Live directly to users, especially because it's not immediately evident why it would do it.

LOS ANGELES--Microsoft on Monday issued an open letter to members of its Xbox Live community that attempted to explain some of the initiatives it unveiled in its morning press conference here at E3 and better lay out the larger Xbox Live roadmap.

"When we launched Xbox 360 in November 2005, Xbox Live was integrated directly into the console," wrote Xbox Live General Manager Marc Whitten. "Back then, Xbox 360 was the first system to deliver access to experiences beyond just the disc in the tray. With the Xbox guide and dashboard, you had access to everything on your console as well as your community.

"We also imagined that the Xbox experience would continuously improve over time, through the power of software.

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"Since launch, you've always pushed us to continuously innovate. It is because you spoke with one loud voice that we added new features like background downloading, 1080p support, movies and TV shows, video chat, a Marketplace blade and instant messaging."

Whitten continued by adding that Microsoft has attempted to address many of the community's requests and concerns.

"Over time, as we've delivered more and more content into the Xbox Live Marketplace, we've heard from many of you that it has become increasingly difficult to find the games and content you want."

"But that was just the preamble, leading to Whitten's discussion of Monday's announcements.

"And that brings us to today."

Whitten suggested it was because of continuous community feedback that Microsoft decided on the complete redesign of Xbox Live that the company announced at its press conference. The idea, he continued, is that the company felt it could both make a better experience for its existing community and build a system that would be attractive to a new, more mainstream audience.

He suggested that the ability to play games directly from the Xbox's hard drive--after downloading them from the game discs--would make for a smoother, faster experience. As well, he wrote that being able to access the Xbox Live Marketplace on the Web will broaden the community's ability to get what they want when they want it. Any downloads done via the Web would synch with users' accounts when they return to Xbox Live.

The rest of the letter was a basic rehash of the press conference's news. Essentially, though, the letter was an attempt to get Microsoft's version of what it talked about Monday directly to the Xbox Live community rather than having that news filtered through the game press.

In part, that's likely because some of the news was a little abstract and the company probably thought that it would be good to reach out directly--especially because of the major redesign of the Xbox Live interface that is coming.

It's an odd approach, especially since there are literally hundreds of game journalists in L.A. today reporting on the news, but it seems the company wanted to be sure to get its say in without the journalists' interpretation.