Next week, Microsoft will launch the much-anticipated New Xbox Experience dashboard overhaul for its console-based online service. Features included in the update are Mii-like avatars, Netflix's on-demand movie service, full-game hard-drive installation, and the ability to order Xbox 360 games via Xbox.com.
With NXE in the queue for console gamers, Microsoft also said that PC gamers would be receiving some love this year, thanks to a series of updates to its Games for Windows - Live service. The first of those updates entailed dropping the Gold-level subscription fees to allow free access to all previously available features. The publisher said that, later in the fall, it would also be overhauling GFW - Live's user interface as well as launching a PC companion to the Xbox Live Marketplace.
Today, the publisher confirmed that the first of those planned changes--the new UI--will be available as a free update through the service tomorrow. Microsoft also narrowed down the release window for the launch of the GFW - Live Marketplace, saying that PC gamers will be able to download trailers, demos, and add-on content beginning in December.
When the PC Marketplace does go online later this year, Microsoft confirmed that Bethesda Softworks' best-selling Fallout 3 will be the first game to offer downloadable content--the same DLC as will be offered on the Xbox 360. Other games signed on to take advantage of the GFW - Live Marketplace include Grand Theft Auto IV, James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II, Red Faction: Guerrilla, and Battlestations: Pacific.
In a debriefing on the service, Microsoft also confirmed for GameSpot that downloadable content is only the beginning of the publisher's digital-distribution efforts through the desktop-oriented Marketplace. The publisher also said that it plans to offer full-game downloads through the Marketplace "somewhere down the road." Unfortunately, Microsoft was reticent to provide more details on this service or when it will be rolled out.