August 22, 2012

Microsoft To Expand Closed Beta Of 2012 Xbox LIVE Update, Taking Applications

Enid Burns for — Your Universe Online

Those afraid of early and beta updates need not apply. Microsoft is expanding its closed beta of the 2012 Xbox LIVE Update, and the console manufacturer is looking for beta testers. The call for sign-ups was posted Tuesday on Major Nelson's blog.

The post explains that after an overwhelming response to the July sign-up period for the 2012 Xbox LIVE Update Public Beta, Microsoft is opening up an even larger call for beta testers for this cycle.

"The amount of interest we received in July for the 2012 Xbox LIVE Update Public Beta was so staggering that today we're announcing a second open call for Xbox LIVE subscribers to test out the beta program," the post reads. "I can tell you that we're accepting far more beta-testers this time around, but space is still limited and once the spots are filled the beta will be closed."

A total of 500,000 spots were opened during the August round of beta sign-ups, TG Daily reports.

The post warns that while they have more openings than in previous sign-ups, space is still limited. The post was later updated to explain that some users reported issues with accessing the registration page, indicating that the servers were overwhelmed with requests. Links to the sign-up page require users to register through Microsoft Connect, and require users to agree to a non-disclosure agreement for confidentiality.

The NDA should be taken seriously by beta testers who want to keep their enrollment. The post on the Major Nelson blog warns, "Any participant who violates the NDA will be removed from this beta and all Xbox betas moving forward, and will not have access to XBOX LIVE until the end of this beta program period." Major Nelson warns that Microsoft's NDA enforcement squad is "really good at finding violators."

Beta testers will get an early look at several new features. Listed in the Major Nelson blog post: Internet Explorer for Xbox; recommendations and ratings; pinning and favorites; enhanced category search and discovery features and voice search. The voice search is only applicable in certain markets. This may be due to language issues or regulations imposed by individual countries. Microsoft discussed many of these features in June at the company's E3 press conference, during the video game trade show.

The Major Nelson blog is a channel for news and announcements relating to Xbox and other gaming news from Microsoft. Major Nelson is the Xbox LIVE gamertag for Larry Hyrb, Microsoft's director of programming for the Microsoft gaming network Xbox LIVE.

The 2012 Xbox LIVE Update is expected to be released later this year. Beta testers accepted into the program will get the update pushed to their Xbox 360 in the next few days. Microsoft advises that the console will remain fully compatible with standard retail consoles not participating in the beta testing. Those in the program will still be able to play with, chat with and conduct other activities with those not in the beta program.

In March, Microsoft updated Xbox LIVE, which added new content including on-demand entertainment apps from HBO GO, Comcast Xfinity, and MLB.TV, PC Magazine reports.