The mystery surrounding Xbox LIVE Labs has been solved. What this 3MB application does is perform a series of network tests from your console to Xbox LIVE. This optional testing program is voluntary, but is part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to improve the Xbox LIVE service. The results collected will be recorded solely to test and improve Xbox LIVE and will not be used to identify anyone specifically.
As we told you about yesterday, if you participate there are three zero point achievements that you can obtain and you get an Avatar item for each achievement you complete. The Avatar items are a lab coat, brain helmet and the crazy mad scientist hair.
The Xbox LIVE Labs test will run from March 10th to March 27th and is open only to those in the United States, but it is possible that it will be expanded to other regions at a later date, according to our sources. Apparently, while using LIVE Labs you will not be able to engage in other Xbox LIVE activities such as gaming, watching online steaming content and downloading.
It is not exactly clear what data Microsoft is collecting beyond your IP address, but we suspect that it is mostly doing bandwidth and throughput testing which will, of course, give Microsoft a better idea on the kinds of speeds and packet loss customers are experiencing. Once they have this data they can use it to make changes to the service to improve performance for all customers. The longest test takes 6 hours to run, but since you can run it unattended it should not be that difficult to complete all three tests.
We think it is actually a good thing that they are doing, and it is worth it long-term for you to participate if you can and get some free Avatar gear for doing so.