Xbox Live logo Microsoft plans to add a new social networking option to its Xbox Live platform, by allowing users of the service to connect with friends of friends.

The Dashboard Update will be introduced on December 4, to allow gamers to find friends, send messages and invites, and to compare games.

All of which prompts the question: Is Microsoft trying to become ’the new Facebook’?

According to Microsoft:

“With the prevalence of social media websites such as MySpace and Facebook, this type of capability has largely come to be expected from consumers as a means to relate in an online community.”

So that’s a yes then. Kind of.

From next week, players on Xbox Live will be able to view see who their friends are friends with, so long as sufficient access is provided (players under the age of 13 will not be allowed to explore networks like this).

Microsoft has made a loss on its Xbox 360 consoles so far, not helped by the ‘red ring of death’ issues which affected up to 30% of machines, but with Xbox Live it has built a solid platform in people’s living rooms. We’re very bullish about prospects for Xbox.

The service has over 8m users worldwide and, in addition to playing games, Microsoft can use this platform for the distribution of games and video downloads, with IPTV planned for the future. Microsoft has emerged as a serious force in the battle for the lounge.

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