Beta will be invite only, no public beta this time
Microsoft has been talking a lot about the next Xbox 360 Dashboard update that is expected to arrive later this year. Recently, the company pushed out some small tweaks in preparation for the eventual push of this next Dashboard Update which will offer Facebook, Twitter, and LastFM as the main attractions to the final dashboard update for this year.
Our sources tell us that they are looking to ramp up into beta mode the middle of this month. This time around, the beta will be by invitation only, with invites being sent out by Microsoft to a variety of users as well as members of the media.
One feature that is very likely an addition to the Dashboard is being called the Xbox Avatar Arcade, which is a retro–themed environment that is similar to the old school video arcade of previous times.
While details are a bit sketchy at this point, it seems that it will be designed in many ways to be a competitor to the PlayStation Home. It is likely that it will be an interactive environment and Atari is said to be a big player in making this happen. In some of the screenshots we have seen, they feature avatars playing Atari Realsports Baseball and Basketball. Whispers we hear suggest that the focus will be on older ROM-based titles and avatar interaction, allowing players to play together on this old classic. It is doubtful that this will make the Dashboard update for this year, but it does look like a lot of development on this has already been completed, so who knows?
Microsoft is still saying that they are on track to deliver the last Dashboard Update for 2009 before the end of the year. Our sources insist that Microsoft would like to have it released before Thanksgiving, if at all possible, and they are targeting a late November release.