IM coming to Xbox 360, keyboard accessory this summer

Alright, so Gamespot's leakier than a colander full of swiss cheese, but now we've got the official details (from Microsoft this time) on what's included in the upcoming Xbox 360 Spring Dashboard update, due in one month beginning the week of May 7th. Integrating the 6 million Xbox Live users with the 260 million Windows Live Messenger users stands at the core of the upcoming update, allowing Xbox 360 users to communicate with up to six of their PC, Mac, or mobile phone bound friends at once.

To aid gamers in their instant messaging, Microsoft is also preparing a keyboard accessory for the Xbox 360 controller, which will connect via the headphone jack. The un-named, un-priced, and un-dated device, which currently exists only in the pristine renderings contained in the gallery below, is reportedly due "this summer." In the interim, an on-screen or USB keyboard will do the trick.

Also included in the Spring update: a new Achievement pop-up that displays the name and associated gamerscore value; a separate Xbox Live Marketplace blade to help organize the perpetually overcrowded service; the ability to begin watching incomplete video downloads; and a new auto-off function to put that system to sleep after it's done downloading. Oh, and Major Nelson's favorite new feature? Yup, the Dashboard will finally list what game is loaded in the disc tray. No more trial and error!

[Update: has been updated with a fairly repetitive list highlighting some additional features of the new update, including H.264 and MPEG-4 Part 2 video support (hrm?), WM-DRM streaming, the (now more informative) tray icon displays achievements and gamerscore for that game, and Xbox 1 games "show the name and image of the game."] Engadget has some additional details on the keyboard accessory, including the unfortunate news that the device prohibits the use of existing headsets and will come with its own.]


This article was originally published on Joystiq.