Microsoft has lined up lots of new features that will appear in upcoming updates, some big and some small. No doubt the biggest announcement is the one that confirms the rumors that Internet Explorer will arrive on Xbox Live. Full web browsing functionality will finally be coming to the console, complete with Kinect voice recognition.

Entertainment possibilities will be expanding, with the announcement of new partnerships. There will soon be apps from entertainment giants Nickelodeon and Paramount Movies, as well internet giants Machinima and TwitchTV. NBA Gametime will be a new sports app specifically for NBA games, and while affiliated with ESPN it will require its own separate subscription.

One of the best new features is one of the smallest, and that is the inclusion of a favorites menu. You’ll be able to choose your favorite games and media and have them right on the home screen of the dashboard. This sounds like a major improvement on the current Quickplay menu, but there’s no telling where that will go once Favorites arrive.

Improvements will also be made to the existing Bing searches, allowing for searches to find items across all your media apps, allowing you to find your favorite type of entertainment anywhere it can be found, including Youtube. Microsoft is also acknowledging those that have a Kinect outside of the US, promising to expand voice capabilities to 12 new countries this year.

Phew! That’s a lot to look forward to, not to mention all the under-the-hood performance improvements that will continue to keep the dashboard up and running smoothly. Look forward to all of these updates in the coming year.

Source: Major Nelson