360 dashboard, media upgrades?

On the cards, says Microsoft.

Microsoft's Scott Henson says that the Xbox group is considering how to improve the Xbox 360 dashboard and multimedia features - and is currently looking at and prioritising requests made by users.

Those include upgrades to the music player, support for networked media playback from PCs not using Microsoft's proprietary Windows Media Center software, and the ability to download content from Xbox Live Marketplace in the background.

In an interview with gaming website Kikizo, Henson, director of Microsoft's Game Technology Group, also defended the firm's decision to treat 1080i as the top resolution for its high-definition console as Sony this week told GDC attendees that it would support 1080p worldwide.

Henson also spoke a little about HD-DVD, which Microsoft plans to support, reiterating that the company will not be offering games using the next-generation disc format.

While a lot of talk this week has focused on how Sony's proposed user interface for PlayStation 3 will include most of the functionality familiar to Xbox 360 owners with a little bit more on top, Henson says that 360 dashboard features are not static and identified several areas likely to see improvement.

The "capability is there" to update the music player, he told Kikizo. "There are all kinds of feature requests that have come in. One of the top requested features is the ability to download from Marketplace in the 'background'. So we're looking at, and prioritising, that list of requests."

"I am not going to commit to anything specific, but I think what you're going to see in the coming months and year is us add more and more capability for both Windows XP systems, as well as Media Center Editions," he added.

He was more specific about 1080p, which he thinks is "basically impossible" for developers to do. "I think if you talk to any developer they will tell you that they will not have a performing game at 1080p."

Microsoft decided that 720p and 1080i is the "sweet spot" for the next generation, he said, having reviewed movies, television, games and the television sets themselves that are likely to spring up in the next decade.

As for HD-DVD, which will be offered as a movie-playback attachment for Xbox 360 - in contrast to Blu-ray on PlayStation 3, which will be the only disc developers can deliver games on - Henson said that "it will all come down to content".

HD-DVD's strengths included its compatibility with an existing DVD library, he added.

As for whether Microsoft would ever consider supporting Blu-ray, should the expected battle between the formats turn in Sony's favour, Henson didn't rule it out, instead referring to the Xbox 360's strengths as a system "architected [sic] so that we can continue to add components over time".

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