xbox 360 and channels available on its new xbox live systemThe seventh generation of gaming consoles is perhaps the most fertile ground for the oft-promised home entertainment revolution to flourish.

In the last couple of years the systems have been upated with more functionality and integration into everyday life than ever before, boasting not only cutting edge graphics and huge first day sales figures for the most popular games but also their place as a viable platform for the thousands of burgeoning independent games producers.

And then there’s the future, with integration of social media and something that is the holy grail for console developers – dominance under the TV as the home entertainment hub.

The rapid rise of Youtube and iPlayer has paved the way for Microsoft and Sony, and to a much lesser extent Nintendo, to fully integrate those and many more media channels into their systems and this week saw the launch of the new dashboard for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 which pushes the message that Xbox is more than just games. With on-demand TV shows, movies, internet videos from Youtube and more, sports, music from Vevo (again, among others) and news, aiming to become the first and only place to experience all your entertainment.

There is voice control through the Kinect and, of particular importance to us on HeyUGuys, streaming content from LOVEFiLM (as we reported earlier this week)  but also from AlloCiné (Screenrush), blinkbox, Channel 4, Channel 5, Crackle, Dailymotion, MSN Video, MUZU.TV, YouTube and Zune, as well as, in 2012, the BBC.

We are partnering with Microsoft to hold the Xbox to is high promise. I’ve never used an Xbox before now, though I am familiar with some of the components mentioned through a TiVo box and a Sony PS3, but I’m taking the Xbox 360 and its new dashboard based entertainment for a six-week run, to see how the experience might change my viewing habits. I’m hoping that there will come a time when I have to turn on one machine and everything I need is at my disposal.

For me it is about the ease and quality of the service provided, as well as the intuitive and progressive thinking behind the entertainment offering. This is not a new phenomenon, but Microsoft have held back their full integration and promotion of the services until, presumably to ensure that each is up to speed (literally and figuratively) before offering them to the public. There is also integration with the new Nokia Windows Phone which I’ll be testing out, as well as the Kinect voice control so I’ll be shouting at the TV even more it seems.

It should make for an interesting time, and there’s a chance that this is the beginning of the end for multiple home entertainment boxes under the TV. We’ll see. I’ll be reporting on my experiences with  the system over the next six weeks. If you have any questions, or anything you want to test specifically let me know.

The full press release from Microsoft detailing the services and when they will become available is available below,

The Future of TV Begins Now on Xbox 360
Kinect for Xbox 360 brings voice control to living room entertainment with update that launches December 6th
London. — Dec. 5, 2011 — Microsoft is pleased to announce an  entertainment revolution starting tomorrow in living rooms around the world.  Tomorrow, the future of TV entertainment begins with the launch of an all-new Xbox 360 experience, including the first wave of custom voice controlled entertainment apps on our online service, Xbox LIVE. Xbox 360 is transforming how you enjoy TV entertainment, giving you the power to control all your favourite content – games, music, movies and sports as well as live and on-demand TV – using  your voice. Thanks to the unique combination of Kinect for Xbox 360 and Bing Search, you say it, Xbox finds it. It’s that easy.

“A new era in entertainment begins where all your entertainment is together in one place—your games, movies, TV shows, music and sports,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “With this update, Xbox 360 system owners will experience Kinect voice control integrated with Bing search, making your TV and entertainment experiences more social and personal than ever.”

“Microsoft has just built and delivered it: A single box that ties together all the content you want, made easily accessible through a universal, natural, voice-directed search. This is now the benchmark against which all other living room initiatives should be compared,” said James McQuivey of Forrester Research in “Engaged TV: Xbox 360 Leads The Way To A New Video Product Experience,”* Sunday, Dec. 4. “With more than 57 million people worldwide already sitting on a box that’s about to be upgraded for free, Microsoft has not only built the right experience, it has ensured that it will spread quickly and with devastating effect.”

Speak Up, Your Entertainment Awaits
With the new Xbox 360 experience, entertainment is now more intuitive with the launch of Bing on Xbox, which  lets customers search entertainment services on Xbox using their voices. Last year, Kinect for Xbox 360 revolutionized controller-free entertainment by letting you use your body and voice to play your favourite games and entertainment, turning you into the controller. This year, the power of Kinect combined with the search intelligence of Bing is turning your voice into the ultimate remote control. With Bing on Xbox, you can use your voice to effortlessly find the games, movies, TV shows and music you want and discover the best offerings on Xbox LIVE, by simply saying what you’re searching for. You say it, Xbox finds it. It’s that easy.

All Your Entertainment, All in One Box
This Christmas and beyond, in addition to offering the best blockbuster and Kinect games, Xbox 360 consoles are set to deliver live and on-demand TV shows, movies, videos, sports, music and news, becoming the best device to experience all your entertainment. TV and movie fans can instantly stream live television via our current UK TV partner, Sky, as well as enjoy a variety of fantastic content from the likes of AlloCiné (Screenrush), blinkbox, Channel 4, Channel 5, Crackle, Dailymotion, LOVEFiLM, MSN Video, MUZU.TV, YouTube and Zune, as well as, in 2012, the BBC.

This ‘next wave’ of content and innovation sees Xbox 360 building on its comprehensive catalogue of movies and TV shows available through Zune Video and Sky TV here in the UK by rolling out the following entertainment apps*:

Dec. 6:
•    EPIX. United States
•    ESPN on Xbox LIVE (ESPN). United States
•    Hulu. Japan
•    Hulu Plus. United States
•    LOVEFiLM. United Kingdom
•    Netflix. Canada, United States
•    Premium Play by (MediaSet). Italy
•    Sky Go (SkyDE). Austria, Germany
•    Telefónica España – Movistar Imagenio. Spain
•    TODAY (MSNBC). United States

Later in December:
•    4 on Demand (C4). United Kingdom
•    ABC iView (Australian Broadcasting Corp.). Australia
•    AlloCiné. France (AlloCiné), Germany (Filmstarts), Spain (Sensacine), United Kingdom (Screenrush)
•    Astral Media’s Disney XD (Astral Media). Canada
•    blinkbox (blinkbox). United Kingdom
•    Crackle (Sony Pictures). Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, United States
•    Dailymotion. Available in 32 countries globally
•    Demand 5 (Five). United Kingdom
•    DIGI+ (CANAL+). Spain
•    GolTV (Mediapro). Spain
•    iHeartRadio (Clear Channel). United States
•    Mediathek/ZDF (ZDF). Germany
•    MSN. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, United Kingdom
• United States
•    MUZU.TV. Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
•    ninemsn. Australia
•    Real Sports (Maple Leaf Sports). Canada
•    Rogers On Demand Online (Rogers Media). Canada
•    SBS ON DEMAND. Australia
•    TMZ (Warner Bros.). Canada, United States
•    TVE ( Spain
•    UFC on Xbox LIVE (UFC). Canada, United States
•    Verizon FiOS TV. United States
•    VEVO. Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom, United States
•    Vudu (Wal-Mart). United States
•    YouTube. Available in 24 countries globally

Early 2012:
•    Antena 3 (Antena 3 de Televisión). Spain
•    BBC (BBC). United Kingdom
•    CinemaNow (Best Buy). United States
•    HBO GO (HBO). United States
•    MLB.TV (MLB Advanced Media). Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States
•    Telenovelas/Sports (Televisa). Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom
•    Xfinity On Demand (Comcast). United States

The Best Entertainment Platform Offers Choice
Whether choosing the movie you want to watch or the service you want to watch it from, Xbox LIVE  is giving you multiple choices in how you interact with your favourite content; including your voice, your controller and now your Windows Phone. Also starting on December 6th,, the free Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone will let you find, learn more about and control content from popular entertainment services on Xbox LIVE and Xbox LIVE Marketplace.