Windows Phone now accepts Microsoft Points, and other news you may have missed

Even though Windows Phone has been leading the innovation curve for the next generation of all of Microsoft's graphical interfaces --everything from Windows 8 to Xbox Live is expected to adopt the mobile OS' "live tile" system-- Windows Phone seemed to have been lost in the shuffle in Microsoft's E3 keynote yesterday.

Updates to Kinect, Xbox Live, and of course the Halo franchise took center stage, and nearly nothing was said about Windows Phone and its upcoming improvements in the gaming realm and deepened integration with Xbox Live.

Fortunately, the Windows Phone team discussed the game-centric updates soon to hit the platform, and announced a handful of new and exclusive titles.

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Now Accepting: Microsoft Points

Xbox Live Extras Avatar Marketplace Windows Phone

An update to the Xbox Live Extras app (v.1.6) was released yesterday, and it gives users access to more content, accessories, and clothing for their Xbox Live avatars through the new Avatar Marketplace. While it seems like a small update, this is actually very significant because these new items are purchased with Microsoft Points directly in the app, and users can buy MS Points through their phone.

The introduction of MS Points as in-app purchasing currency on Windows Phone means users may be able to eventually use those credits toward buying applications as well, a feature that has frustrated quite a few potential Windows Phone gamers.

Xbox Live Avatar Windows Phone

Mango Updates

With the massive "Mango" platform update later this year, native support for Xbox Live in Windows Phone's Games Hub will be greatly improved. It will add the ability to view played games and achievement lists, as well as compare those achievements with other Xbox Live members. Users will be able to track their friends' activity live from their phone, with the ability to search statuses and see what services they're using. Xbox Live messages will be available through the phone, as well as the ability to send/accept/reject friend requests.

While these updates don't quite introduce the heavy cross-platform compatibility that Sony announced with titles like Dust 514 (PS3 FPS + PC MMO) and Medieval Moves: Deadmund's Quest (PS Vita + PS3), they will keep Xbox Live's mobile functionality slightly ahead of Apple's Game Center, which will first introduce profiles, achievement points and peer game recommendations with the iOS 5 update.

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