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Microsoft updating with Beacons, new social and video features

Microsoft has announced will be getting a fresh coat of paint and some feature changes in "the coming days."

One of the larger changes is the removal of the My Xbox section which is being replace with a Social section. This new feature makes it easier to see what your friends on Xbox Live are up to, and it provides early access to one of newest features coming in the next Xbox 360 dashboard update: Beacons.

What it does, is allows you to mark games you want to play with others, and which should those searching for co-op or multiplayer partners. In order to set a Beacon, find it in your activity list, and click the Set Beacon button. You can have up to three Beacons active at a time, and a custom description can also be added such as times, which mode, and more.

Once you are signed into, you’ll be taken straight to the Social page when visiting the site. At the top of the page, you will notice a group of tiles called Metro. This spot includes links to Xbox Live "events, previews of the hottest new items on Marketplace, new video and game releases, Gamer Spotlight, and more." To its left, there will be quick links showing how many friends you have online, and how many messages are in your box. Below your avatar will be links to tasks, such as viewing your Profile, redeeming Marketplace codes, and checking your Queue.

The Friends Activity column will show you the popular games your friends have been playing, who is playing at the moment, and who played them recently. In the right-hand column, you'll see games and applications you’ve loaded recently, how many friends are playing them, and a list of what your currently online friends are doing.

You can also click Activity at the top of the screen to view the new Activity page, where in the My Recent Activity section, you’ll see the titles you’ve played recently and which of your friends are playing those as well. You will also notice any titles you set a Beacon for, and you can also select a title and be taken to a page showing your Achievements, and which friends have set Beacons for that particular game.

Below the Beacons you can see anyone who’s online playing right now, and who’ve played it recently. You’ll also be alerted to friends playing games you set a Beacon for on your console, but it will not go into effect until the System Update goes live. Windows Phone users will be able to see Beacons under the Xbox Live Requests section before then.

Other site enhancements, including the ability to search the Zune video catalog, and purchase or rent movies and TV shows from your browser, are in the works as well. The navigation menu is also being changed to make room for a Video page and other new items.

You can head on through the link for any extra details.

We'll let you know when it goes live.

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