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XBox (Games) Media

Xbox Spring Update To Offer Codecs, MSN Messenger 207

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the might-be-able-to-retire-my-xbox-180 dept.
adachan writes "It seems that Microsoft has decided to add Xvid playback into the upcoming Spring Xbox 360 dashboard update. Xbox.com has a list of all the upcoming enhancements to the dash. The playback of video using H.264 and mpeg4 codecs seems to be the biggest news for those using the system as a media extender. If this is indeed true, my Xbox Media Center will be used less and less." Update: 04/09 17:29 GMT by Z : MSN Messenger is kinda interesting as well. Several sites are reporting that instant messenging is being added to the Xbox Live experience, with a USB keyboard controller attachment to be offered sometime in the near future.
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Xbox Spring Update To Offer Codecs, MSN Messenger

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  • external drives (Score:4, Insightful)

    by donour (445617) <{donour} {at} {cs.uchicago.edu}> on Monday April 09, 2007 @01:22PM (#18665191) Homepage
    The real question is whether I can play vidoes from an external drive, such as an iPod. Survey says...no. :(
    • Sure you can, it works fine with my Zune. The Zune supports Xbox 360 playback of music, photo's and video...

      And it works great.
      • by Afrosheen (42464) on Monday April 09, 2007 @02:19PM (#18666005)
        Holy crap, you mean someone bought a Zune?

        Slashdot never ceases to amaze me.
        • by radish (98371) on Monday April 09, 2007 @02:36PM (#18666253) Homepage
          Ahh, the usual anti-Zune flame. What I don't understand is what exactly is wrong with a Zune? From what I can tell, the only things I see people marking it down for are either subjective (don't like the color, doesn't work with iTunes) or unique features which don't work as well as they could (wifi). In terms of core features (sync with music collection, playback, etc) it seems fine (recently fixed playback bugs notwithstanding). Let me put it this way, if they released an 80gb Zune I'd probably buy it. I think they look better than iPods (my preference, you don't have to agree), I find the controls much easier to use than the scroll wheel (likewise, personal preference) and if I could live in a world entirely free of iTunes I'd be a happier person. So sure, it could be better, but I don't see why all the childish mocking is justified.
          • by Afrosheen (42464)
            Childish mocking? I'm just saying..they didn't sell, it's extremely rare to come across anyone on any forum that says they bought a Zune. If I were mocking I'd throw in something about 'squirt' technology and aids or something.
            • by beckerist (985855)
              <lie>it's extremely rare to come across anyone on any forum...</lie>
              <truth>it's extremely rare to come across anyone on any forum that starts with an S and ends with a "lashdot"</truth>
              • by 7Prime (871679)
                <truth>it came in 3rd place, behind SANDISK, for the Christmas season</truth>
                Translation: It's really fucking rare!
            • by radish (98371)
              Well that's fair I guess, I picked on you as an example of a pattern - and you probably weren't the best example. Nonetheless, I doubt your comment was entirely based on actual sales figures - I imagine there's a hint of "Zune...haha!" in there somethere ;)
          • by sabinm (447146) on Monday April 09, 2007 @03:05PM (#18666607) Homepage Journal
            From what I can tell, the only things I see people marking it down for are either subjective (don't like the color, doesn't work with iTunes) or unique features which don't work as well as they could (wifi

            Let me tackle this one. People buy an Ipod for the same reason that they buy anything. Subjective reasons. You really can't be objective about discretionary expenses. No one needs an Ipod. So to be entirely objective, no one would be buying one. The subjective reason that I buy an Ipod over other items has to be due to universiality. I can use my ipod in my car, on my stereo and on my computer with very little trouble and a wide range of products to chose from. Call that being a market leader that everyone tries to sell to. I don't have a 'Zune Dock' in my car.

            if I could live in a world entirely free of iTunes I'd be a happier person

            I'm not sure this really helps your argument. Zune and Ipods are just different sides of the same coin. Locked into Itunes, or Napster/Urge/Real I'm not sure what the difference is. If you're like the majority of people, the device is a place where you store content *you already have*. I've purchased about 20 usd from itunes, all impluse purchases or purchases for parties where I couldn't just obtain a song from a store for that just right ambiance. Semantically, Itunes and Zune music outlets are the same. I buy my mp3s loose and free from eMusic.

            The WiFi was the killer here and makes Microsoft's clamors for freedom from DRM disingenous for me. It encrypts your 'free range' music and ropes it into a format so you can't squeeze (squirt?) your music freely, but only for limited playbacks and limited duration. There is no online purchase capabilities and no extra features that the WiFi angle is just aching to take advantage of. Don't ask me to hack it myself. I want those features out the box. I don't have the inclination to waste my time 'hacking' a product that should 'just work' for me the way I want it. If it doesn't work the way I want it, I won't buy it.

            Would I consider buying a Zune? Yes, if it had the features that I wanted. As of now, it's more or less an 'also ran' that doesn't present a significant enough deviation from the Ipod-type device to merit jumping ship. WOuld a larger capacity move me to jump? No, my 30 gig ipod hasn't filled up yet. I don't think an extra 50 would help me that much.

            The Zune as it stands deserves to be mocked. It's a joke and a half hearted attempt to topple the king of digital music. If you're going to take on a leader in its own field, you better come with all your dogs fighting. As it stands, the Zune is a five year old idea wrapped up in a five year old design. Give me a reason to switch and I will.
          • Nothings wrong with it. Its just got nothing going for it.
            Its just a bad copy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ffejie (779512)
      Do what I did, get a Ma href="http://www.qnap.com.tw/pro_detail_feature.a s p?p_id=67">QNAP TS-101. It supports UPnP which the Xbox 360 also supports. I had to convert my movies to WMV, but with this update, looks like I can use a couple of different formats. I've got a great setup now, all the Seinfeld, Entourage, Arrested Development, Office and SATC episodes. All at the click of a button! Took a while to convert to WMV, but it works.

      Disclaimer: I don't work for QNAP, but I do work for a company that
    • by Kalriath (849904)
      Bzzzt. Wrong. The current XB360 supports playing off a USB attached iPod via the (free) "Optional iPod Support" download from Marketplace. It can also (out of the box) play from a USB attached Sony PSP even.
  • AppleTV? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Perhaps I'm stating the obvious, but this seems like a move for Microsoft to compete with AppleTV, considering the main reason xvid exists is for the online distribution of movies. Perhaps we'll start seeing Microsoft offering for sale downloads of movies in xvid format?
    • Re:AppleTV? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MSFanBoi2 (930319) on Monday April 09, 2007 @01:30PM (#18665319)
      Um, you got that the other way around. Microsoft was in the market with the Xbox 360 well before the AppleTV. Microsoft offered movie downloads far before Apple did with the AppleTV.
      • by bay43270 (267213)
        AppleTV doesn't have downloads. Its plays back downloads from the iTunes music store which were around before the XBox 360.

        Your also missing the parent's point. Microsoft is adding support for codecs in reaction to AppleTv. There's nothing for Microsoft to be ashamed of here, MSFanBoi. They're just listening to the market.
    • I didn't see xvid or h.264 mentioned anywhere in the link, but even if they did support xvid and h.264 playback, that doesn't mean supporting these formats in streaming. Note that Xbox 360 supports only WMV and Mpeg2 streaming (The later, only through Media Center).

      Without the support for streaming, the only other option for someone trying to turn an Xbox 360 into a media center will be to use an external hard drive via USB. That's not an ideal solution because (a) the hard drive will need to be Fat32 -
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        I saw h.264 and mpeg mentioned in the last list at the bottom of the article. I didn't see anything about Xvid, though. I would be very surprised if they offered Xvid or Divx support, considering how these are widely seen as "pirate" formats. Would be nice, though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Aladrin (926209)
        # H.264 video support: Up to 15 Mbps, Baseline, Main, and High (up to level 4.1) Profiles with 2 channel AAC LC and Main Profiles.
        # Added MPEG-4 Part 2 video support: Up to 8 Mbps, Simple Profile with 2 channel AAC LC and Main Profiles.

        The only mentions of streaming are for wmv protected content... The rest was already streamed, so I'm going to -assume- everything is streamable now.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BLKMGK (34057)
        Check out this software -> http://www.orb.com/gamers/xbox.htm/ [orb.com]

        I haven't tried streaming with my 360 nor have UI got the latest firmware - I'm hoping to hack it. However a friend who is up to date claims that this makes his 360 a damned good computer for a home theater. I personally want unsigned code and XBMC on the 360 but that looks to be awful far away right now....
        • What I get for not previewing - link works but looks like ass unless you remove that last trailing slash. Sorry about that! Looks like they support the Wii and PS3 too....
      • by twistedsymphony (956982) on Monday April 09, 2007 @01:47PM (#18665575) Homepage
        That's because it's not mentioned there... the summary is just assuming that MPEG-4 means support for all MPEG-4 codecs... I highly doubt we'll see Xvid. h.264 is actually mentioned specifically though. This is all the press release has to say about video:

        * H.264 video support: Up to 15 Mbps, Baseline, Main, and High (up to level 4.1) Profiles with 2 channel AAC LC and Main Profiles.

        * Added MPEG-4 Part 2 video support: Up to 8 Mbps, Simple Profile with 2 channel AAC LC and Main Profiles.
        AFAIK Xvid uses the "Advanced Simple Profile" (ASP) flavor of MPEG-4... not the "Simple Profile" (SP) that will be supported by the update. Most of the worthwhile MPEG-4 based codecs use ASP... SP is typically reserved for really tight compression scenarios like cellphones, iPods and PSPs.
        • by jZnat (793348) *
          I'm sure you can use specific options in Xvid or lavc MPEG-4 to make it use SP only and give it a FourCC that signifies that. Although, that too would require transcoding once again. Argh...
        • by imsabbel (611519)
          But "Main Profile" is a superset of the (advanced) simple profiles, so it shouldnt be a problem
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rude Turnip (49495)
      From everything I've read, it's not hard to compete with Apple TV given the video quality issues. I ordered an Apple TV and sent it back. Now, I rip DVD's from Netflix, keep them on my Media Center (Vista) system and stream it all to my Xbox 360. Adding xvid support to the 360 will make life a little easier because right now a movie in MPEG format takes about 2-3 gigs of HD space...using DVD Shrink and VOB2MPG. Transcode 360 simply wasn't working with Vista, so I welcome native xvid support.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Have Blue (616)
        Leaving Apple with just the tiny advantage of being entirely legal.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      Perhaps we'll start seeing Microsoft offering for sale downloads of movies in xvid format?

      Don't count on it. You think Vista would be such a DRM-infested pile of turd if Microsoft was thinking of heading in that direction? No, what's more likely is that by supporting an open codec like XVID, Microsoft gains automatic, free compatibility with all the other media players that don't want to play Apple's or DiVX's proprietary-codec game (think: Archos, Cowon, etc). The only proprietary that Microsoft will a
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Aphrika (756248)
      Well, you could look at it that way as historically Windows Media Extender boxes - which is what the Xbox 360 essentially is - have been around since the first release of Windows Media Center and as far as I can remember, they've always been able to play videos from the host PC. In that respect, the AppleTV/Front Row combo is Apple's response to the Media Extender/MediaCenter kit from Microsoft, although they got there first with movie and TV downloads.

      Needless to say, as MS have one of the best online sys
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dioscaido (541037)
      Xbox Live (for the 360) has been selling HD movies and TV shows for quite a while, in WMV format.
    • I heard on the 1upyours podcast that one of the guys from Netflix has joined the Microsoft board. If it's true then I think we'll see more movies coming to the Xbox marketplace.
    • by stubear (130454)
      "but this seems like a move for Microsoft to compete with AppleTV"

      Apple's the "me too" in this equation. They created AppleTV to compete with the offerings from Microsoft and those they partner with through their Media Center. This is also one area that Microsoft simply trounces Apple in terms of usability and a better interface. The only thing killing MCPC systems is the cable companies being stubborn assholes. Once the OpenCable cards are made available I'm going to get one and dump my Comcast cable b
  • by Dster76 (877693) on Monday April 09, 2007 @01:33PM (#18665363)
    I was glad to hear that the new dashboard update will enable all kinds of extra gizmos for navigating through videos.

    Still no sign that the update will enable fast forward and rewind in audio tracks.

    What year is this?

    • by peragrin (659227)
      >>Still no sign that the update will enable fast forward and rewind in audio tracks.

      sorry but the DRM requirements prevent you from rewinding, or fast forwarding through a song. you must listen to it all.
    • by Dster76 (877693)
      In case anyone is still tempted to give mod points to the joker above who thinks you can do this, I spent 15 minutes on hold with tech support at Microsoft.

      They confirmed that there is no way to rewind or fast forward (seek) within audio tracks.

      Perhaps the guy who thinks this is possible is

      • high
      • imagining using an Xbox 360
      • running Linux on his Xbox 360
  • Transcode (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Monday April 09, 2007 @01:33PM (#18665367)
    There was already free transcode software out there, but that requires going into a submenu on the 360 and requesting the transcode, instead of just having it play. It also offloads the transcode to the PC, making it work as well as making the 360 decode and play it.

    This is obviously much better, but doesn't actually make anything possible that wasn't before.

    There's other updates that interest me, as well, though.

    Windows Live Messenger: Why the fsck didn't they do this from the start? It just makes too much sense.

    "A richer Achievement notification pop-up will showcase the name of the unlocked Achievement and the gamerscore value without needing to leave the game to check the Achievements list." Nice. I almost always went to check out what it was I'd done.

    Should be a nice update.
    • Windows Live Messenger: Why the fsck didn't they do this from the start? It just makes too much sense.

      Maybe they were afraid that the EU would fine them another $1m per day?

      I have no idea how they are getting away with the Xbox since it now consists of
      • A way to crush OpenGL (direct X development for their console and their os when no one else can influence what happens on their console)
      • A way to crush xfire et al (MS only game matchmaking service when no one else can influence alternatives for the xbox)
      • by webrunner (108849)
        They already have that- Zune software and Media Center can stream/send video to a 360.
        • They already have that- Zune software and Media Center can stream/send video to a 360.

          Phew, I thought for a minute that the EU was actually going to have to pay for it's daily biscuit budget out of taxes for a moment. Much easier when they can just tax Microsoft for the cash following another blatant monopoly abuse :)
      • by radish (98371)
        What on earth are you on about? Last time I checked MS were very far indeed from having a monopoly in the game console market. The EU rulings (and US ones before that) are about MS illegally leveraging their desktop OS monopoly and using it to strong arm their way into other markets (e.g. browsers). Given that they are a minority player in the console market these are just competitive features they're adding to their products in the exact same way other manufacturers do.

        A way to crush OpenGL (direct X devel
      • The 360 can be programmed with openGL; how do you think id games are making it over?
    • by Zach978 (98911)
      I couldn't find any transcoders for the Xbox 360 that will run on linux. My fileserver is a linux box, seems crazy to have a windows box stream from the linux box and then transcode it to the 360. Luckily I have the Xbox Media Center kicking on the old xbox.
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        I was unaware there was ANY way to stream from Linux to 360 at all. I thought you -had- to have Windows Media Center Edition.
  • .. because that was pretty much my reaction to using it. After streaming movies from my PC to my 360 for a bit I came to the conclusion that I'd better off actually sticking the films on a 2.5 USB powered drive and plugging them into straight into the 360. Which can, as of a few updates ago, play WMV - and presumably after this, other codecs - straight from an external drive. Why? Because I didn't feel particularly good about having my energy hogging PC and 360 on at the same time. True, I could go upstairs
  • The cycle (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dancindan84 (1056246) on Monday April 09, 2007 @01:41PM (#18665485)
    All they need to do is add Office to it and we're back to having a PC...
    • by necro2607 (771790)
      Yeah, I was going to say that adding a keyboard like that not only makes the controller seem like one of those horrible oversized cell phones, but at the same time, defeats the purpose of having a 360.

      If I wanted to be chatting online I would just use my $1500 PC... The voice chat on 360 is great, but text chat could easily take away that "simple yet effective" kind of feel that the 360 has. I hold a lot of value in the fact that I can just press the power button on the console, sit wherever I want with my
  • Cool, but I'm still waiting for them to bring back Xbox Live connectivity in MSN/Windows Messenger... I used to use the MSN "Alerts" feature to see when my buddies would pop online on Xbox Live, without having to leave my Xbox running 24/7.

    At the same time, that controller with the built in keyboard is kind of obscene... holy crap! Cue all the second generation of "huge xbox controller" jokes [penny-arcade.com]... wow... !
    • by jZnat (793348) *
      With the use of live.xbox.com [xbox.com], it should be fairly trivial to integrate your friends list with any instant messenger program that's either open source or pluginable. So, let's find some programmer to do it!
  • TVeristy rules (Score:3, Informative)

    by microbee (682094) on Monday April 09, 2007 @01:47PM (#18665579)
    I've been using TVersity to steam videos from my compuater (like a media center but much better). I can play divx xdiv and rmvb. The only drawback is that it cannot rewind.
  • Well it looks like there might be a chance that our PC's and consoles will have interchangeable controllers! How nice would it be to not have that extra $200 investment in controllers and such! Surely the next generation of consoles will all but abandoned the d-pad controller types for the far superior keyboard/mouse type set-ups.

    Then again, it is still only hope... they will find another way to make that money.
    • by radish (98371)
      Well it looks like there might be a chance that our PC's and consoles will have interchangeable controllers!
      They already do, all Xbox 360 controllers (including wired, wireless, racing wheels, etc) work just fine on Windows PCs with the supplied microsoft drivers. For the wireless devices you need a $20 RF dongle, the wired ones are regular USB.

      Surely the next generation of consoles will all but abandoned the d-pad controller types for the far superior keyboard/mouse type set-ups.

      Yeah! That'll be awesome. C
  • by anakin876 (612770)
    The linked site does not include the Xvid info - does anyone know if this is true or not?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by DCstewieG (824956)
      Xvid is an implementation of MPEG4.

      Added MPEG-4 Part 2 video support: Up to 8 Mbps, Simple Profile with 2 channel AAC LC and Main Profiles.
      • by anakin876 (612770)
        supposedly Xvid is Advanced Simple Profile - and this update only says "simple profile" - so that doesn't really answer my question.
  • The feature we just need for the 360 is multiple voice chats. I'm sick of having two buddies online and all three of us wanting to chat and we can't. It would be easy to make a "chat room" even if it means one person dedicates their xbox.

    Other than that it sounds good, though I want to see divx support whether or not this gives us it is up in the air.
    • I agree. Extend the idea to video chats, as well. Chat rooms should also be able to consolidate friends into games as 'parties'. Halo 2 had this, and the platform should support it. With all the great games out for the 360, its almost impossible to join a ranked game with a friend.

      Microsoft has done some cool things in the space over the last two years. USB peripherals that are PC interchangeable, unified online environment for consistent gameplay experiences.

      But there's this 10% that's missing. I can buy s
  • by getnate (518090) on Monday April 09, 2007 @02:17PM (#18665969)
    Divx and Xvid require MPEG4-ASP (Advanced Simple Profile). This update only includes Mpeg4-SP (Simple profile). Therefore this dash update does not add Divx/Xvid compatiblity.

    There is a possibility that Microsoft cannot claim "MPEG4-ASP" because they do not support GMC and QPEL however nobody cares about those features of ASP and 99.9% of the divx/xvid videos dont use them. This leaves open the possiblity that Microsoft may still support Xvid and Divx, just not the full suite of MPEG4-ASP features. Im not holding my breath.
  • I find hard to believe they are adding Xvid [wikipedia.org], since Xvid [xvid.org] is GPLed [xvid.org].

    It is more likely they are adding DivX [divx.com] which, although generally serves the same purpose, is another different best.
  • by MrPerfekt (414248) on Monday April 09, 2007 @02:51PM (#18666453) Homepage Journal
    This should really be a no brainer. Just add a driver and/or pairing interface so we can use Bluetooth keyboards!
  • by Jesse B. Okerlund (222433) on Monday April 09, 2007 @03:19PM (#18666819)
    I am currently ripping my DVD collection to VOB, converting VOBs to a single straight MPEG-2 file with 5.1 (using VideoRedo http://www.videoredo.com/ [videoredo.com] not free, but very easy) and streaming from WinXP MCE server (with the My Movies extension installed - http://www.mymovies.name/ [mymovies.name]) to my Xbox 360. This setup works flawlessly and quality is at least DVD quality video with 5.1 surround. However, 4-6GB per movie is eating up my 1.5 TB storage faster than I would like.

    H.264/MPEG-4 support could mean significant storage savings in the long run for me. As others have already mentioned, it's not really Xvid, and it would mean lots of transcoding with some quality lost, but I will be experimenting with it when I get my update to see if I can still get decent quality with some storage savings.

    [wandering off topic/troll] Although my setup requires more setup and nerd-skills than the Apple TV option, the audio and video quality is significantly better AND I can stream. The lack of streaming of the Apple TV for video is what killed the Apple TV option for me (that and it looked terrifyingly horrendous in the Apple Store - even on the streamed "HD" trailers). For those that are unaware, the Apple TV only allows you to synch selected video content to the measly 40GB drive. You can stream audio from iTunes and some trailers from the Introweb, but you can't stream video from iTunes. With MCE/Xbox 360 I can hang whatever storage I want off my MCE server and stream 'til the cows come home.

    I wouldn't recommend the MCE/Xbox 360 combo for everyone, but it was the choice for me because it streams DVD quality video and 5.1 surround AND I was able to convince my fiance to go with it, which also got me a decent gaming console. That and she LOVES Feeding Frenzy HD, which is strangely addicting yet simple.

    I still love (and own) Apple/Mac and I would bet Apple TV v2.0 or 3.0 will overcome some of the current shortcomings.
  • Hmm, I bought this 'PC' thing the other day that had a keyboard with it, and USB, and MSN Messenger, and it played games as well. Maybe it would be a reasonable alternative.

    I guess the only reason to go for the Xbox is that it runs Linux.
  • If they really add DivX & xvid codecs that'd be very nice indeed. I'll most probably make some use of this if it allows playback from a USB drive, at least for now as I don't have a better alternative. *But*: as a media center/media center extender I think the 360 is pretty much dead in the water, because it has 2 major disadvantages that the first generation Apple TV (with all its own annoying limitations) doesn't have: it makes too much noise for a media player, and it doesn't have wireless built-in b
  • by theolein (316044) on Monday April 09, 2007 @07:07PM (#18669117) Journal
    I personally think that the main reason Microsoft branched off into Games and the Xbox was to eventually have a home computing platform with its OWN hardware and its OWN absolutely controlled software environment. I'm pretty sure Microsoft would love to tell all the OEMs to fuck themselves (just not in so many words) and take on Apple directly with their own hardware and controlled OS.

    In other words, I'm pretty sure they want to make the XBox a home PC, with games, messanging, browsing. email, Voip, a home version of office, some other home productivity crap and stuff. That way they can take on Apple directly in the market segment where Apple has an advantage, and slowly build up their own empire here.

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