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Xbox Smartglass to launch with Windows 8

Console gets second screen functionality this week

It’s been a busy week for Microsoft; with Windows 8 launching on Friday, the company has been hard at work showing off its Smartglass features which will tie the new operating system into your Xbox games console.

Smartglass arrives on Friday, ready for when Windows 8 goes on sale, and will let gamers stream and share music and video across their Microsoft devices. Apps for Windows 8, tablets and smartphones (including Apple iOS and Android) are due in the coming months.

Launched through a series of Windows 8 live tiles, Smartglass uses your Windows Live ID to sync content with an Xbox 360. Unlike DLNA, Smartglass doesn’t stream from one device to another – instead, it simply tells the console to begin streaming from the internet, at the point you pushed it to the TV. As it uses standard DRM licenses, you can only play one copy at a time, meaning a film will stop playing on a Windows 8 PC if you push it to an Xbox.

The service ties in with the newly launched Xbox music service, as well as the incoming dashboard update which adds Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser to the console. With SmartGlass, you’ll be able to push bookmarks and favourites to the console, as well as queue up music or download content directly to the console.

Xbox Smartglass

For film fans, the killer feature looks to be IMDB-style integration when watching movies. Smartglass automatically displays the actors in any given scene, updating in real time with biographies and other details. A Microsoft representative told us the feature will be compatible with all films rented through Xbox video. You can also navigate between scenes with a swipe on touch-enabled devices.

As well as multimedia, Smartglass functionality will also be coming to Xbox games. Already confirmed are Dance Central 3 and Forza Horizon – the former will let friends cue up tracks in a party playlist and the latter will move the open world map to a second screen, freeing up more space on the main display for admiring the scenery.

It’s a clear challenge to the incoming Nintendo Wii U, but we’ll have to wait until Smartglass launches to see if it works quite as well. We won’t have long to wait – the system will launch with Windows 8 on Friday.

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