Microsoft (s MSFT) announced new Xbox Live features today at the E3 video game conference, designed to expand the number of content options available and new ways to discover them. The Xbox Live service will soon make millions of new videos available through partnerships, including one just announced with YouTube. (s GOOG) And with a revamp to the Xbox Live experience, users will be able to navigate the service and all those new pieces of content with voice control powered by Microsoft Kinect and search powered by its Bing search engine.
At its live press conference Monday, Microsoft Corporate VP for Xbox Live Marc Whitten said Xbox Live would ramp up video content over the next year, increasing the number of content partners ten-fold and increasing the number of video assets available from hundreds of thousands to millions of titles. A big step toward that goal is the addition of YouTube to its content library, which also includes Netflix, (s NFLX) Hulu Plus and the Zune Marketplace.
Whitten also said Xbox would increase the number of live TV options available through the Xbox Live service, following on partnerships it already has with SkyTV in the U.K., Canal Plus in France and Foxtel in Australia. While he didn’t announce any new live partnerships, Whitten said more live TV would be available through the console over the next year.
But how will users find what they’re looking for through all those new content sources? To provide some discoverability, Microsoft is adding unified search powered by its Bing search engine. The unified search will enable viewers to search across available game content, videos from various content partners like Netflix and Hulu Plus, and even live TV.
To ease navigation, Xbox Live is pushing voice control of the service. Using the power of voice, Whitten said users will be able to easily and intuitively navigate Xbox Live. That means they’ll be able to speak controls and content queries, rather than having to control them through a controller or Xbox Kinect’s gesture control.