Xbox Live

This week, Microsoft is celebrating Xbox Live by announcing and sharing new features throughout the week. Yesterday we had our first look at the new Friends App on Xbox One. Plenty of new changes and features are coming to Xbox Live in the next-generation. Here are some new changes for how multiplayer works and how the Xbox One is built for the future. Videos and details below.

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New Friends App on Xbox One caught on tape

The Xbox One is launching in a little over a month. While we have the overall picture of the console, there’s still a lot minute details to learn about the console itself and the software running on it. In fact, the Xbox team is making tweaks to the operating system as we speak and you’ll already have an update ready for you the day you buy your console.

Xbox Live’s Major Nelson, aka Larry Hryb, just shared a video of how the Friends App will look and function on Xbox Live. Let’s watch it after the break.

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Microsoft recently made the decision to drop their Point system from Xbox Live. It was a move that many people on Xbox Live have been wanting for quite some time. While you could get discounts on Microsoft Points (thus saving money), the system itself had a few annoyances that many aren’t mourning the loss of. Now Microsoft is refreshing their Xbox Live Reward program to reflect changes to the loss of Microsoft Points. Details after the break.

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What are you up to this weekend? Maybe you’re heading to 1 Infinite Loop to tag some Live tiles on buildings. Maybe you’re taking your Lumia 1020 to a remote location to capture works of art. Or maybe you’re just lounging around the house with no crazy adventures. If you do find yourself at home, here’s a free movie for you to watch from Crackle and Xbox Live.

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For this weekend only, Xbox 360 owners will be able to access Hulu Plus for free through until Sunday, August 4th. If you're not familiar with the brand, the service enables you to watch TV and movies on consoles. If you're on your Xbox this weekend, you'll be able to enjoy unlimited instant streaming of top TV shows and movies on Xbox Live through Hulu Plus.

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Looks like our Xbox LIVE gaming drought has come to an end as Microsoft and Gameloft have released UNO & Friends (listed as UNOFriends in the Store) for Windows Phone 8 today. The free online game allows you to challenge your friends and family to a competitive bout of UNO, all from the convenience of your phone.

These type of online multiplayer games have been yearned for by many Windows Phone users as we only have a handful of such titles, though that list is slowly growing in 2013. Combined with the free pricing point, it should ensure that there are plenty of users to challenge.

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It is clear that Microsoft intends to go all out for its Xbox One launch day; the company’s “Day One” edition of its console with special limited edition controller and achievement token has already sold out at various retailers including Amazon and Best Buy. Now, the company is introducing preorders for a “Day One” edition of Xbox Live Gold.

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Assassin's Creed II is the next game available as a free download for consumers with Xbox Live Gold subscriptions. Simply boot up your Xbox 360 console and download the game from the Marketplace. As a title that's usually priced at $19.99, this is an absolute bargain, especially if you've played the first game and have not yet looked at continuing the experience. 

The second instalment has taken numerous awards, as well as a high rating of 90 at Metacritic. Sporting open world gameplay, Assassin's Creed II will surely zap some free time off your hands.

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It’s been teased for a month now and we even told you that it was coming out today, but now we can tell you officially that Halo: Spartan Assault, is live in the Store for Windows Phone 8.

Building off of the hit franchise and 18 months in the making, Halo: Spartan Assault is Microsoft’s attempt to capitalize off of the famous first shooter game for mobile. Instead of just “porting” the FPS model over though, a paradigm that is difficult to translate onto tablets and smartphones, Microsoft and 343 Industries opted for a third-person overhead view, which is more arcade style. The game’s timeline takes place in the four years between Halo 3 and 4.

In addition, the developers spent months honing game play to make the frame rate as high (and smooth) as possible and just as importantly, ensured that the game controls were fluid and flexible. From our last 24 hours playing with it, we can confirm that as a “casual gamer”, we found the game highly accessible and extremely well-polished.

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Microsoft is offering 12 month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions for free with Office 365 Home Premium and University annual subscriptions, as well as the physical boxed products. All purchases before September 28th will be eligible for the free Xbox Live upgrade. If you're yet to get the new Office suite and own an Xbox, now is a perfect opportunity to get stuck in.

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While we didn’t get a new Xbox LIVE game today for our Windows Phones, fear not as you were merely being teased. Yes, tomorrow at some time you will officially be treated to the long awaited Halo: Spartan Assault for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

The information comes ironically from the official website (Halo Waypoint), which details the exact date as July 18th for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 devices. Even more interestingly, they detail how Verizon has the exclusive here in the US, which we told you about last week, for 30 days. That’s not too bad of a wait and should give Verizon customers something to be happy about. In the meantime, T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T users can keep themselves occupied with the Windows 8 PC or tablet version.

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If you're an Assassin's Creed fan and an Xbox Live Gold member, you'll want to keep an eye on the calendar. Assassin's Creed II will be the next game featured on Xbox Live's "Games with Gold" program.

Assassin's Creed II normally runs 1600 Microsoft points (about $20) but between July 16th and 31st, you can download it for free with your Gold Membership.

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Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One earlier this year, but that hasn't stopped Redmond wanting to get the word out and reach as many potential buyers as possible. This includes those who are subscribed to Xbox Live and own a current-gen 360. The company has released two new free shirts that bear the Xbox One logo. Pretty neat, but only if you wish to either advertise the console, or display your undying loyalty.

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Xbox LIVE has been pushing online multiplayer gaming forward since its launch in November 2002. Microsoft’s online service recently hit 46 million members and isn’t stopping any time soon. With the launch of Xbox One later this year, a collection of new features will be added to the service including smarter matching, a new reputation system, and a new style of Xbox achievements.

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The popular shooter game for Windows Phone, DoDonPachi Maximum is now on sale. The title is currently exclusive for Windows Phone 7.x hardware, leaving those who have upgraded to new hardware to find other titles to quench the thirst for bullets, bullets and more bullets. If you've not played DoDonPachi Maximum before, now is a perfect opportunity to get stuck in and see just how far you can progress.

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