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Monday, February 23, 2004
Microsoft planning new Xbox Live features

Microsoft is planning a number of new features for its Xbox Live online gaming service this year, including limited data storage on its network, the company said.

Code-named "Tsunami," the new set of features is still in the planning stage and are expected to roll out gradually over the course of the year, Microsoft said.

But the list of services in development gives a preview as to what the company has planned for its Live service, which has more than 750,000 subscribers worldwide.

Among the features listed in an email from the company was something called "title-managed online storage," a way for game players to store and share data via Microsoft's network.

There has been speculation within the industry that Microsoft may not include a hard drive in the next version of the Xbox console, in favor of network-based storage that would reduce the console's physical size and cost.

Other enhancements in the works, Microsoft said, include the ability for game publishers or group of players to create competitions for specific games and new ways to contact friends to play games through the MSN Messenger instant-messaging software.

Buzz about the "Tsunami" features began to circulate on the Internet this week after some of the improvements were said to be revealed in a software development kit for Xbox Live.

Though Microsoft did not say anything about a voice-messaging feature, gaming sites reporting on "Tsunami" said there were indications from files in the kit that Xbox Live would eventually allow players to leave each other brief voice messages.

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