Every once in a while Microsoft gets ready to push out a new dashboard update for its Xbox 360 console. Sometimes a few cosmetic changes are all that console owners can expect to see. Sometimes, though, there are plenty of juice little changes for gamers to get their teeth into.

As is the case with all major software revisions, Microsoft likes to get its Xbox 360 Dashboard updates out into the wild for people to test before rolling them out to the unsuspecting public. It’s all very well and good testing these things in a lab, deep within the company’s Redmond campus. But sometimes you can’t really know what is going on until a few thousand pairs of eyes have had chance to inspect every nook and cranny of an update.

That’s where Microsoft’s public betas come in. For each major update, Microsoft allows Joe public to sign-up to be a public beta tester of new Xbox 360 Dashboards. Getting in on the act is as easy as creating an account and getting in before all the places are gone, and at the time of writing, and confirmed by MajorNelson himself on Twitter, it is gone indeed.

MajorNelsonXbox

Once selected, you’ll get an update pushed to your own Xbox 360 and you play around with it for a while. At the end of the beta, you complete a questionnaire. Simple.

The 2012 Xbox LIVE Update public beta was taking up registrations a while back and as mentioned before, it has been overwhelming, with gamers asked to test out a selection of key new features as and when the beta kicks into full gear. The most interesting of which is possibly the inclusion of Internet Explorer for browsing the web on the big screen.

The list of new features to test includes:

    • Internet Explorer for Xbox 
    • Personalized dashboard recommendations
    • Enhanced category search and discovery features

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Signing up was absolutely free, but sadly the signup process never last for long. Remember, too, that if you do get into the beta then you’ll not be able to talk about it thanks to the NDA that Microsoft makes you agree to. Still, these things have a habit of leaking out, so we doubt Microsoft enforces its NDA any more than Apple does. Just look at all the iOS and OS X leaks that happen year in, year out!

(source MajorNelson)

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