Xbox Live coming to Windows phones

Xbox Live friends lists, avatars, and games soon to be accessible from Windows mobile phones; cross-platform multiplayer across Windows Phone 7, Xbox 360 and PC will be possible.

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Today at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress show, Microsoft announced that it is set to bring Xbox Live to the Windows Phone 7 Series operating system. This means that Xbox Live account holders will be able to view their friends lists, gamerscore, and avatars using compatible mobile devices, as well as download games to play online.

Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7.
Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7.

As outlined in Bill Gates' "Live anywhere" speech at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2006, games developed for Windows Phone 7 Series devices can support achievements and multiplayer gameplay, allowing Windows Phone 7, Xbox 360, and PC users to compete against each other. Microsoft is enforcing a minimum specification for new devices built on the platform, indicating that they will sport accelerometers, high resolution, and four-point multi-touch screens.

In an interview with GameSpot's sister site News.com, Microsoft senior vice president of Mobile Communications Andy Lees detailed how multiplatform gaming will work.

"So let's say that we were playing Scrabble or something. I'm not sure if we should use that trademark, but just as an idea. If I wanted to play against you, then you want to get a notification on your [Xbox] Live tile that, hey, someone has invited you to play a game. And then I go into the gaming Xbox Live hub, and I see that you've invited me to a game of Scrabble, or in the middle of a game of Scrabble, and it's my turn. I take my turn, and then you take your turn, and you can take your turn on a PC, or you can take your turn on a phone. So Xbox Live is coordinating all of that--coordinates your achievements, has your avatar across screens, and enables you to have multi-screen, multi-user play, particularly focused on turn by turn. Synchronized game play is one thing, but given that people spend less time, really, turn-by-turn is, we think, an important element as well."

The new home screen.
The new home screen.

Xbox Live will form one part of the Windows Phone 7 Series platform, which will also feature a brand new tile-based user interface. The new user interface is based on six hubs; people, pictures, music, office, marketplace, and games. Each hub will pull in data from sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Windows Live, integrating the information from multiple different sources. Zune users will also be able to use their existing accounts to download music and videos. Devices based on Windows Phone 7 Series are set to be made available in the fourth quarter of 2010.

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