Xbox Live Beta testing!

Greetings all! I was eager to see a tweet from Major Nelson, an Xbox representative, regarding the opening of the new Xbox live public beta test. The first few moments of testing have been quite enjoyable thus far! There are some great improvements to the user interface as well as some additional apps and options. Check out the jump for more details and screens!

One of the first changes you notice is the tile layout has changed. In the current version of Xbox Live, stories and videos would scroll in a manner that was a bit annoying as you have to wait for the links to scroll. In this new layout, the main stories are separated and easily accessible.

The tiles are now separated instead of scrolling
Another great feature, which you can see from the screenshot above, is a section called My Pins. Any application, games, websites, etc, can be "pinned" to this section which is in your home slide. This allows for easy access to your favorite apps and games without having to scroll to their designated sections.
You can sort your pins by these categories
It has been discussed for a while but XBL has finally decided to integrate a web browser. As this is a Microsoft console the winning browser is Internet Explorer. The browser is pretty solid. You can use your 360's controller to commit actions. The left stick moves the cursor, the right stick scrolls the page, the left trigger zooms out from the cursor and the right zooms in. You can set pages as favorites and modify them in the Web Hub by using the Y button. These favorites can be added to the My Pins section which once again makes it convenient for the user.

Full screen browser mode

The Web Hub where you can edit favorites & type addresses
Lastly, the beta introduces a game called Happy Wars. Up to 30 players battle on two teams trying to capture the enemy castle. Between each castle are three spawn points where your team can choose to spawn so long as you are in control of the point. There are three classes to choose from: warrior, cleric, and mage. Each class has different benefits. The warrior is heavy in battle tactics and close range fighting, the cleric is mostly support based and constructs attack and defense weapons, and the mage imbues weapons with magic for itself and teammates and specializes in long range attacks. You can play single player mode where you command your teammates, or choose between competitive and cooperative modes.

Choose between three classes and customize their looks

I'll continue to add more features as they become available. The full update looks like it will be a promising experience for all that use Xbox Live!

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