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Last Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005, 10:55 GMT
Xbox 360 reaches out to mobiles
By Alfred Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website

Xbox 360 gamer card
Xbox 360 tracks your performance as a gamer

Gamers could soon be able to receive alerts on their mobile phones when their friends are playing on Microsoft's Xbox 360 games console.

The software giant is working on a system which would let players on its online gaming service, Xbox Live, send instant messages to a friend's mobile.

Microsoft UK mobility business manager Jason Langridge told the BBC the system should be live within six months.

It is part of Microsoft's strategy to connect its various online services.

'Very near'

In an interview with the BBC News website, Mr Langridge explained that a team at Microsoft were working on integrating Xbox Live with its instant messaging program, MSN Messenger.

You can see the integration that we are building with the Xbox 360, with phones and with PCs
Jason Langridge
Messenger is included as part of a compact version of Windows for mobile phones.

Around 18% of smartphones and PDas in Europe use Windows Mobile as the operating system, but by far the most popular software is Symbian.

"So on my device I sign in with my MSN account and it sets up Hotmail," explained Mr Langridge. "There is no service fee and you can do MSN messaging chats."

The alerts would be sent over the internet via Xbox Live and come to a mobile over the air as an instant message.

"It just pops up saying 'Dinky Dave wants to play Project Gotham Racing' with you," said Mr Langridge.

He said he could not say when the system would go live on the Xbox 360 console, but added: "It is six months or so. It is very, very near."

"You can see the integration that we are building with the Xbox 360, with phones and with PCs," he said.

Gaming life

The project ties in with the emphasis on community of the Xbox 360. The software on the console has a gamer scorecard which can tells others via Xbox Live what games you have played and how far you have got in them.

Treo phone with Windows software
Microsoft has its software on 20% of smartphones in Europe
It means that gamers are much more aware the gaming life of their friends.

The plan for mobile alerts is in line with Microsoft's aim to bring together its various online services under the Windows Live umbrella.

At the US launch of the Xbox 360 in November, Microsoft boss Bill Gates talked about tying in its online gaming service with Windows Live.

Mr Gates announced Windows Live in early November, as part of efforts to compete with web-based services from rivals such as Google and Yahoo.

With Windows Live, Microsoft is aiming to provide a one stop shop that brings together a range of services, such as e-mail, search and other elements.

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