Microsoft sending invites for Xbox 360 Kinect beta program

It appears that Microsoft has begun sending out exclusive invitations to recruit participants for an “Xbox Live and Kinect Beta Program.”

Reports began to surface this week from those who have received the invitation via Microsoft Connect, a service used to gather customer feedback about Microsoft products.

Microsoft sending invites for Xbox 360 Kinect beta program

The Kinect Beta Program invitation, unfortunately, provides little detail regarding what the program will actually entail, other than “a unique opportunity to see pre-release software.”

However, gaming industry news website Joystiq is reporting that those who apply for the program have seen information stating that an “audio change” in the Kinect beta software restricts participant’s chat activity to only those involved in the program. This likely pertains to the video chat application featured in the Kinect dashboard which was shown at E3 earlier this year.

“This isn’t unusual. Microsoft always runs extensive beta tests of all its new products, and Xbox is no exception,” said Jon Hicks, Editor of Official Xbox 360 Magazine, regarding the beta program. “Similar invites went out ahead of the launch of the NXE interface update.”

The Kinect, previously known as “Project Natal”, is a new component for the Xbox 360 that detects motion and sound to control a game without the need for a controller in-hand. Scheduled for a November 4th release, the Kinect will be priced at $150 and is set to compete with the Nintendo Wii and the new Sony PlayStation 3 Move motion controller for shares of gaming console sales this holiday season.

Microsoft is expected to reveal more details about the Kinect at their GamesCom press conference in Germany on August 17th.

As a fan of the Nintendo Wii, I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Microsoft has in store for Kinect users.

If you’ve received an invitation for the Xbox Live and Kinect Beta Program, please share the details in the comments!