Earlier this morning Microsoft held its annual E3 press conference at the Galen Centre in Los Angeles. Unlike Sony and Nintendo, who are peddling new hardware at this year's show, Microsoft decided to stick to software, like Kinect functionality and announcing new multimedia offerings with companies like Disney and the UFC.
One feature that most of the new Kinect titles are pushing was voice recognition, which as many Aussies will know was left out of the Australian launch. In a post-conference interview with GameSpot AU, Microsoft Australia's product marketing manager Steve Blackburn confirmed that voice recognition would be coming to Australian and New Zealand consoles "before December 31, ." Blackburn declined to lock down a firm release for the update but was keen to highlight that any game that is released between now and the update is completely playable with a controller, regardless of whether it supports voice recognition.
One thing that Blackburn could confirm was Xbox 360 sales data for both Australia and New Zealand. The console is currently just shy of 1.3 million units sold in Australia and just over 200K machines have been snapped up across the Tasman.
The other big focus of Microsoft's press event was the integration of live TV streaming to Xbox 360s. In Australia, the hardware and software giant has teamed up with Foxtel to stream cable TV to consoles around the country but has only teamed up with Telstra to offer the stream unmetered. Blackburn refused to comment on any new partnerships but said that it is something the company is considering. As for the UFC service that was revealed during Microsoft's press conference, Blackburn confirmed that it will be coming to Australia and New Zealand but couldn't confirm a release date. The service currently has no launch date information for any region.
[UPDATE] Microsoft Australia have confirmed that Kinect voice recognition will be coming Down Under before the end of this year, but said they will not nominate a specific date at this time.
For more E3 2011 coverage, check out GameSpot's E3 hub.