Your Xbox LIVE® friends list is about to get a whole lot bigger. Microsoft Corp. today announced the launch of Windows Live™ Messenger on Xbox 360™, connecting friends across Xbox 360 consoles, Microsoft® Windows®-based PCs and Windows Mobile®-powered devices. With this update to Xbox 360, friends and families can easily connect and chat directly from their television using Windows Live Messenger, a network of more than 20 billion relationships and more than 260 million active accounts.
Beginning the week of May 7, 2007, the Xbox 360 Spring Update will provide Xbox 360 owners worldwide with access to Windows Live Messenger features, broadening the communication options on the Xbox LIVE social network. Members of the 6 million-strong Xbox LIVE community currently send more than 2 million text and voice messages a day and can now use Windows Live Messenger to text chat with up to six people on their contact list at one time, while playing games, listening to music or watching movies. Text chat adds to the variety of options friends and families already have to communicate with on Xbox LIVE, including voice and video chat.
Beginning the week of May 7, users of Windows Live Messenger on Xbox 360 will text chat using the virtual keyboard accessible on Xbox 360, or by connecting a USB keyboard to the console. This summer Microsoft will launch a QWERTY text-input device, a new accessory that will connect directly into the Xbox 360 controller to support text and instant messaging.
Engadget has a picture of the “text-input device” which make it look pretty big, but head over to the Gamerscore blog where you will see that is really a thumb keyboard embedded in an Xbox 360 controller which is probably fine for IM. Microsoft officials were quoted in the NY Times to the effect that “they hoped to offer voice chat between Xbox and Live Messenger users later this year.”