Microsoft will release a number of updates for its Xbox 360's dashboard and Live service starting next week, adding support for compressed movies and Apple portable devices, the company said.

The update is an automatic download for the 8 million Xbox Live subscribers and it includes new features like the Family Control feature that limits how long a child can play with the console in a given day or week.

Xbox 360's new software will allow the purchase and download games through the Internet that were previously only available in retail outlets.

The Xbox also will also support Apple's venerable media players. Although the iPhone and iPod touch will not be formally supported for normal audio and video streaming, the former will be recognized as a Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) camera. Both the iPod classic and third-generation iPod nano will be fully recognized with the update.

The software giant also extended support for Apple's products yesterday, saying that the newest version of Office 2008 for the Mac will allow PowerPoint Presentations to port to the devices.

Starting at at 2:00 a.m. PST on Dec. 4, the Xbox 360 Fall Dashboard Update will be available for all connected Xbox 360 consoles free of charge.

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