Today from the E3 stage in Los Angeles, Microsoft announced plans to dramatically improve their HD video offering through a new technology that enables instant on 1080p streaming with 5.1 audio with Zune video on Xbox 360.
This implementation is as close to a "disc in the drive" experience as possible over the Internet. At a high-level, here is how it works:
- Video startup is nearly instantaneous because of the back-end proprietary Microsoft technology developed by Zune that seamlessly transitions between many different bitrates and resolutions of video.
- Video playback will start at a low bitrate for fast download time and then ramp up to a higher bitrate and quality, up to 1080p with 5.1 audio.
- Features such as smooth fast forward and rewind that users have only seen before with local physical media.
- Social: We unveiled Movie Party, a feature where you can go to the movies with your friends whether you are sitting on the same couch or in living rooms across the country. Starting this year, you can share a virtual theater, see your Avatars (a virtual you) on the screen – all while you listen to each other laugh and cry together at the movie through voice chat on Xbox LIVE.
- New Regional Partners: Now, for the first time Xbox LIVE members in the UK and Ireland can watch live or on-demand TV with BSkyB on Xbox. Never miss a moment of your favorite live TV shows, sports, movies and family-friendly entertainment – even share your favorites with up to seven friends in an Xbox LIVE Party.
- Global Expansion: The 1080p streaming HD Zune video experience on Xbox LIVE marketplace is expanding to 10 new regions this year, making movies and TV shows available in 18 total countries including US, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, and New Zealand. (Note: content and partners vary by region)