Xbox update adds PayPal, hopefully no bricks

Xbox 360 Kinect bundle

Today, Microsoft announced that the latest Xbox 360 system "Spring" update is immediately available, on a rolling out basis. So some lucky gamers will get the update today, while others will have to wait. They're lucky as long as the update doesn't, ah, brick their consoles.

Microsoft's Major Nelson (aka Larry Hryb) formally announced the update, which will allow "U.S. and international Xbox Live users to make purchases on their Xbox 360 consoles with their PayPal accounts." Well, almost internationally. PayPal won't be available in more than a dozen countries: Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan. That includes most of the BRIC countries -- Brazil, Russia and India. In other words, if you live in three of the four largest emerging markets, Xbox Live and PayPal aren't for you.

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"Once you've linked your PayPal account to your Xbox Live account on Xbox.com, you'll be off and running to use it as a billing option, allowing you to buy content such as Microsoft Points, Xbox Live Gold subscriptions and Games on Demand titles," the Major writes.

I'm assuming that PayPal already was some kind of option on Xbox and that Microsoft is extending it. I don't have an Xbox 360 right now (I gave mine away to a needy teen a couple Christmases ago) and so can't personally confirm PayPal integration. So I ask Xbox gamers who also are Betanews readers to answer that one in comments.

PayPal is a huge addition for Xbox Live, as available on a nearly global basis (based on number of countries). I tend to use PayPal wherever possible, rather than a credit card number. Did you hear that, Sony? The timing smacks Sony, which is still struggling with PlayStation Network security, after recovering from a self-inflicted 24-day outage. Hackers stole as many as 77 million users personal data and at least some credit card numbers. I do have a PS3, purchased three Christmases ago for the Blu-ray. I've never played a game on it. Hehe, did you hear that, Microsoft? By the way, yesterday, I cleared out all my personal data and credit card number from PlayStation Network and changed the email address. If a PSN subscriber, you should consider doing the same.

Back to Xbox: "This particular update will also bring an auto-standby feature that places your console on standby if it's idle for more than one hour, helping to reduce power consumption," Major Nelson writes. "This feature will be automatically enabled after you download the update. You can change this setting in the System Settings on your console."

The update also changes the disc format capability, which has been a hot topic recently. The capability extends Xbox support to XGD3. The new format reportedly gives developers an extra 1GB of storage space per disc and adds new anti-piracy controls. However, there have been reports of a system update bricking some Xbox 360 consoles and this being related to the disc format capability. Microsoft plans to replace afflicted consoles. There have been conflicting reports, some from Microsoft no less, about which system update caused the bricking.

Yesterday, the Major posted, trying to clear things up: "The console replacement plan that is the subject of some of today's headlines is related to a previous update, not the system update that has been in public beta and will be deployed shortly" -- the one he announced today. "The new disc format that is part of the beta has been rigorously tested across all Xbox 360 models and there are no known compatibility issues."

Whenever you get the update, please share in comments about the new capabilities Microsoft has added. If your console gets bricked, please comment about that, too. With details.

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