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Microsoft unveils Xbox Live Labs

Wants your help to improve XBL.

Microsoft has called on Xbox 360 owners to help it improve Xbox Live.

Xbox Live Labs is an optional testing program that performs a "number of network tests from your console to Xbox Live".

Microsoft mouthpiece Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb said Xbox 360 owners won't be forced into participating in Xbox Live Labs.

"These results are recorded solely for the purpose of testing and improving the service," he wrote on the Major Nelson blog. "Although we want your support, participating in Xbox Live Labs is entirely optional and voluntary.

"These results are recorded solely for the purpose of testing and improving the service and will not be used to identify you."

If you decide Xbox Live Labs is for you, Microsoft will send you virtual gifts. Each completed test rewards an Avatar item and a zero point achievement – an achievement that awards no points.

Three Avatar items and three zero point achievements are available, including a lab coat, brain helmet and crazy mad scientist hair.

There's a downside, though: you won't be able to use other Xbox Live activities, such as gaming, watching movies or downloading music, while running the program. Your internet connectivity may also be slower, Microsoft warned.

Xbox Live Labs runs from 10-27th March, and is open to all Xbox Live members living in the US. Once completed Microsoft will "evaluate when and how we'll roll this out to other Xbox LIVE regions".