Microsoft is looking to introduce some major changes to the Xbox 360 this year, and is accepting sign-ups to preview a number of the new features being implemented. This new program, called the Xbox Live Update Preview Program, will grant selected users early access to the Xbox’s updated user interface, the enhanced Netflix interface and the new Xbox Live on-demand ESPN service.
According to Major Nelson’s blog, interested users need to sign up to Microsoft’s Connect website and complete a survey, after which they’ll be notified if they have been selected to participate in the program. This is not part of the Kinect beta test, but “multiple thousands of participants” are being sought for the program, so the chances of being selected seem decent.
A report from Joystiq outlines a few requirements to be aware of, however: Your ISP must support ESPN 3; you need a Netflix subscription to use the new Netflix search, and an Xbox Live Gold account will afford you “priority” during selection. The same Joystiq report also mentions that since the new Xbox Live update is introducing a new audio codec for online communication, and that your voice chat will be incompatible with the older version.
“Because you are participating in an exclusive pre-release program, you will not be able to voice chat with non-participants during the preview program period.”
Game chat will reportedly unaffected, however.