Cloud Storage For Game Saves, 'Beacons' Coming to Xbox Live

Xbox Live will allow gamers to save their game saves to the cloud, so they can download them and resume playing their games on other online-connected Xboxes, Microsoft announced today. That feature will match the cloud-save option already offered on the PlayStation 3's PlayStation Plus service.

But what's brand new are "Beacons"... a way to alert friends on Xbox Live and Facebook about what you're playing or want to play.

That news, more details about a forthcoming upgrade to the Kinect sensor and the line-up for the 360's Summer of Arcade, were all part of a big dump of news from Microsoft's Marc Whitten, their top guy on the Xbox Live team..

Dear Xbox LIVE members,

We have a simple vision. All the entertainment you want, with the people you care about, made easy. Today at E3, we took another remarkable step toward realizing that vision, unveiling a whole new way to experience entertainment, where TV is more amazing when you are the controller.

We are transforming entertainment in the living room by bringing you more entertainment experiences and new ways to enjoy them.

Coming this year to Xbox LIVE will be UFC and YouTube, adding to our ever-expanding library of great entertainment, including ESPN, Facebook, Hulu Plus, Last.fm, Netflix and Twitter. We are also forging new partnerships to bring live television to Xbox LIVE in the United States and around the world, adding to our current partnerships with Sky TV in the UK, Canal Plus in France and FOXTEL in Australia.

And this is only the beginning; we will continue to bring more entertainment experiences to Xbox LIVE for you and your friends.

But the future living room does more than give you great entertainment; it helps you find and decide. It gives you simplicity, discovery and personal choice. With the power of Xbox, the simplicity of Kinect voice control and the intelligence of Bing, now you can just say it and Xbox will find it. Bing on Xbox gives you the easiest way to find the entertainment you want.

Every day, you and nearly 35 million other members of the Xbox community are pushing us to continue to deliver new and exciting experiences. Whether it's playing "Call of Duty: Black Ops" (Activision) and "Halo: Reach" (Microsoft Studios) with friends, or catching up on the latest episode of "30 Rock" on Hulu Plus and watching college football on ESPN, our community is spending an average of 60 hours a month on Xbox LIVE. That translates to 2.1 billion entertainment hours a month!

This is an amazing opportunity to continue bringing you the games, movies, TV shows, music and more experiences you want. Thanks for pushing us to deliver more.

So we know you want to keep playing, watching, sharing and enjoying your time on Xbox LIVE. We are equally passionate in our efforts to continually improve and innovate the LIVE service, and I'm happy to share a glimpse of what is more to come:

· The New Dashboard. Simpler. Cleaner. Easier to navigate. With the addition of new entertainment content on Xbox LIVE and our commitment to continuously improving the overall Xbox experience, we've updated the dashboard with a new look and feel that makes it even more open, inviting and intuitive to navigate. All of your favorite content is categorized in a way that is easy to browse and find what you're looking for, plus you can use voice anywhere in the dashboard to effortlessly navigate and get to what you want.

· Bing on Xbox. We are bringing Bing to Xbox. Bing on Xbox searches Netflix, Hulu Plus, ESPN, as well as our music, video and Xbox LIVE marketplaces to find exactly the entertainment you want to enjoy. With Bing on Xbox and Kinect, you can effortlessly find the games, movies, TV shows, sports and music you want by only using your voice. You say it, Xbox finds it. The experience is now simpler than ever before.

· Expanded Kinect Voice Support. We want Xbox LIVE members around the globe to experience the magic of Kinect's voice recognition technology so we are committed to bringing voice to eight additional markets by the end of this year with a total of 13 markets that will have Kinect voice. We are also exploring some innovative new ways to enable the LIVE community to help us accelerate the refinement of voice models in new markets, and look forward to sharing developments on that front soon.

· Beacons. We want to make it easy for you to connect with friends over your favorite games on Xbox LIVE, so we are introducing Beacons to the service. Beacons are a way to tell your Xbox LIVE and Facebook friends that you want to play a game on Xbox LIVE. By setting a Beacon, you tell Xbox LIVE what you want to play. Then, Xbox LIVE lets you know when friends are playing or want to play the same game. With Beacons, no matter what you're currently doing on Xbox LIVE your friends know that it's ok to ask you to play your Beaconed games. Imagine sending out a Beacon to let your friends know you're interested in playing "Halo," while watching a movie on Netflix. It's about making it easier for you to share and discover games and multiplayer opportunities with friends on Xbox LIVE.

· Cloud Storage for Game Saves and LIVE Profile. Here at Xbox LIVE we listen to your feedback. We are making it easier for you to sign into your Xbox LIVE account from any console at any time to access your game saves and full profile, including items such as Microsoft Points to make purchases, Achievements and friends. Cloud storage will allow you to enjoy the same great Xbox LIVE gaming experience even when you're not in your own living room by giving you the option to store your "game saves" securely in the Xbox LIVE cloud instead of on a portable memory unit or your console's hard drive. Gone are the days of "gamertag recovery." Now all you need to do is sign in, no matter where you are!

· Summer of Arcade. For the fourth year in a row, we are excited to bring you the hottest Xbox LIVE Arcade titles with Summer of Arcade. Starting July 20, enjoy five consecutive weeks of the season's most highly anticipated downloadable games, including:

o "Toy Soldiers: Cold War" (Signal Studios/Microsoft Studios). Jump into the fray with playful '80s combat action in "Toy Soldiers: Cold War." Bring your favorite action toys to life and wage war against the red menace. Need backup? Call in a friend for co-op campaign action on the couch or over Xbox LIVE. Take a break from the main battle with Survival mode and playful minigames. When you beat your LIVE friends' scores, they'll be gunning to reclaim the top spot!

o "Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet" (Fuelcell/Microsoft Studios). This side-scrolling, 2-D, action-adventure game takes players on a journey through the curious Shadow Planet worlds, unique environments filled with twisted life, surreal ecologies, hostile creatures and environmental hazards. Players explore the depths of several interconnected themed areas, fighting swarms of enemies, battling bosses, solving mind-bending puzzles and acquiring power-ups to unlock new parts of the map.

o "Fruit Ninja Kinect" (Halfbrick/Microsoft Studios). The worldwide gaming phenomenon "Fruit Ninja" is now coming to Kinect for Xbox 360 in its juiciest form yet - YOU are the ninja! Your arms are now blades, and the battle against the world's most delicious produce is just beginning. "Fruit Ninja Kinect" is an amazing evolution of the slice-em-up genre created by Halfbrick, utilizing next-generation precision power for the juiciest combat ever!

o "Bastion" (Supergiant Games/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment). "Bastion" is an action role-playing experience that redefines storytelling in games, with a reactive narrator who marks your every move. Explore more than 40 lush hand-painted environments as you discover the secrets of the Calamity, a surreal catastrophe that shattered the world to pieces. Wield a huge arsenal of upgradeable weapons and battle savage beasts adapted to their new habitat. Finish the main story to unlock New Game Plus mode and continue your journey!

o "From Dust" (Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft). Discover a unique Modern God game in which nature is the star. "From Dust" is the latest original concept by Eric Chahi, visionary creator of "Another World." Behold the beauty of a primitive world pulsing with life and face the might of nature. Beware the danger of a world that is constantly changing under your command. Control the destiny of a tribe struggling to survive and help it recover its ancestors' lost powers. Immerse yourself in a world as exotically beautiful as it is dangerous. A universe where nature reclaims what is hers and you are your people's only chance of survival.

Also today, Kudo Tsunoda announced Kinect Fun Labs Kinect Fun Labs which brings innovation to Kinect owners and offers more exciting ways to have fun. It's all about creating magical moments with never-before-seen Kinect technology and new Gadgets available all the time to experience and share with your Xbox LIVE friends.

This is just the beginning. This year alone we are taking Xbox LIVE from half a million pieces of content to hundreds of millions, all controlled by your voice. Our mission is to forge partnerships with the best known entertainment companies throughout the world so everyone can experience how TV becomes more amazing when you are the controller.

Xbox LIVE gives you all your entertainment on one box, where you can use your voice to easily control, search and decide. I can't wait to open the doors to your new home for entertainment this holiday, and rest assured, there is more to come.

See you on LIVE,

Marc Whitten

Gamertag – Notwen