Microsoft announced features that are upcoming in the Spring Update (2007) for the Xbox 360. While there is a big push for integration of Windows Live Messenger technology on the Xbox 360, there are also a few new video features that should make people happy.
Excerpts of the announced features pertaining to video include:
- H.264 video support: Up to 10 Mbps, Baseline, Main, and High (up to level 4.1) Profiles with 2 channel AAC LC and Main Profiles.
- Added MPEG-4 Part 2 video support: Up to 5 Mbps, Simple Profile with 2 channel AAC LC and Main Profiles.
- Video trick modes are enabled for content that is being progressively downloaded from Video Marketplace.
- Support for streaming WM-DRM protected content from a PC
- Show folder hierarchy for video content played from all devices.
- Bookmarks are stored for each video that the user plays remembering the users last location in the file as well as the aspect ratio that the user choose for that file.
- Video trick modes (fast forward, rewind, chapter skip) can now be used while downloading Video Marketplace content.
- Skip forward and backward functionality has been improved to skip to the next or previous chapter. Each video is divided into 10 “chapters” allowing you to quickly skip around video content.
- The information bar that is turned on via the On Screen Display (OSD) now shows you exactly where you are in the playback of the video file. In addition it will also show for Video Marketplace content how much of the file has been downloaded and where the “chapters” exist in the file.
- Windows Media protected content (WM-DRM) can now be streamed from the PC to the console. If the WM-DRM license is missing or corrupted then a specific error message is displayed to the user. Bookmarking is also stored for protected content.
Perhaps the most important items are the first two items. This should allow people to play their divx/xvid videos on their Xbox 360s without having to set up a transcoding solution.
It is important to note that these features will only be included in the dashboard (i.e. the Media blade for many of these features) and not the Media Center Extender, which is a different set of functionality. But perhaps now that a lot of this legwork has been done, we may see the fruits of this labour on the Media Center side in the future.
The Spring Update (2007) for the Xbox 360 will be available beginning the week of May 7, 2007.
Note: I've been informed that xvid/divx are MPEG-4 Part 2 Advanced Simple Profile, which is different than Simple Profile or Main Profile. In addition, it does not appear as though the above update will also support AVI containers, only MPEG containers seem likely to be supported, so direct playback of your xvid/divx files is not in the cards yet.