It looks as if the Microsoft "Ventura" social and music/video functionality for Xbox that I blogged about earlier this year is finally ready for debut.
Microsoft is replacing the "My Box" section of Xbox.com in the "coming days" with new social functionality, according to a November 8 Xbox.com forums post by Games Editor Denny Atkin.
The new navigation bar that Microsoft is adding to the Xbox.com site includes not only a new social section, but also new video and music sections, too. (Thanks to Travis Pope over at enConnected.com for calling out the music section.)
These changes are all in preparation for Microsoft's launch of the public preview of its new Xbox Live dashboard, which is expected on November 15. (Select testers already seem to have access to the private preview of the new dashboard. Update: Or maybe not yet)
The updated Xbox Live dashboard will add support for a number of new features, including Kinect-enabled voice search using Bing, cloud storage for game saves, support for "Beacons" (which allow users to mark games they want to play with others), and the coming Xbox Live TV ("Orapa") functionality.
I believe that the new social and music features called out on Xbox.com are what my tipsters called codename Ventura. My contacts described Ventura as a set of services being developed by Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices (E&D) unit that were said to be focused on music and video discovery and consumption. My tipsters, back in March, said to expect these services to include recommendations, ratings and comments.
As enConnected's Pope noted, "I’m not willing to say that this (announcement) confirms those rumors of Microsoft merging (its) Zune (service) with Xbox, but surely it makes the rumors a little more interesting since video browsing and music library browsing are the core functions of Zune.net."