Microsoft's Xbox.com site to get more social

The company is revamping its Xbox.com site by adding a new Social section where gamers can check on the status of their friends and access new features from the Xbox 360 dashboard.

Lance Whitney
Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
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Microsoft's Xbox.com revamp will let gamers tag the games they want to play with others.
Microsoft's Xbox.com revamp will let gamers tag the games they want to play with others. Microsoft

Microsoft is planning a major revamp of its Xbox.com gaming site this week to boost its social-networking features and give certain areas a new Metro-based paint job.

As detailed in an Xbox blog post last night, Microsoft is replacing the current "My Xbox" section on the site with a new area simply called "Social." The new Social section will let gamers see what their friends are doing and tap into a new Beacons feature that will be available in the next update to the Xbox 360 dashboard. Beacons will allow people to mark the games they'd like to play with others, either right away or at a specific time.

The new Social page will also sport a different look and feel, courtesy of Microsoft's Metro interface. The top of the page will display a group of Metro-based tiles with links to Xbox Live events, details about new games in the marketplace, and a look at new titles coming out. On the left will be other links that show you how many of your friends are online and how many messages are waiting for you.

Under your Avatar will be links where you can check your account and download queue, edit your profile, and redeem codes for the Xbox marketplace. A Friends Activity section shows you which games your friends are playing, who's playing them now, and who's played them recently. You'll also be able to see the games and other apps that you've recently loaded and how many of your friends are playing them.

The new Activity page will be home to the Beacons feature where you can mark the games you want to play with other people and even leave a message as to when you'd want to play.

Beyond the new Social page, the site overhaul adds other features, most notably a new Video section that lets people search and browse the Zune video catalog and buy movies and TV shows to watch on an Xbox 360, Zune, or Windows Phone.

Microsoft is promising that the new features will pop up over the coming days, so Xbox users may want to check the site later in the week. The company also is busy finishing an major update to the Xbox 360 dashboard, which some reports say will arrive by the end of the month. That update will also paint the Xbox dashboard with the Metro UI design and integrate both YouTube and Bing.