In order to work out the last kinks in their software (should there be any), Microsoft is trying Kinect on a select group of potential customers through a so called beta program. Those who were accepted into the this program were contacted today and will soon be basking in motion controlled gaming, a new dashboard and fancy, and redesigned slimmer avatars. Microsoft tells these lucky few that their consoles should be prompted for a system update within the next 24 hours and that Kinect hardware is being packed and will be shipped to them soon.

Other websites decided to post some  leaked screenshots of this Kinect enabled dashboard, but we decided not to place them because of the following (the acceptance mail for the Kinect beta program):

Congratulations! We’re pleased to report you’ve been accepted in the Xbox LIVE and Kinect beta program. We look forward to your active involvement and feedback along the way.

REMINDER:The Xbox LIVE and Kinect beta program is confidential. Please don’t disclose, share, or discuss beta program materials, except as allowed in the Xbox LIVE and Kinect Beta Program Agreement. Specifically, please:

DO NOT Blog about the beta materials.
DO NOT Post pictures, screenshots, or video clips of the beta materials.
DO NOT Discuss the beta materials in discussion forums, emails, or podcasts.
DO NOT Talk with the media or press about the beta materials. This includes bloggers, newspaper reporters, and television reporters.
Only use approved support methods for your Kinect experience which are listed on https://connect.microsoft.com/XboxLIVEupdate.
DO NOT contact Xbox Support over Twitter. For support options, please go to https://connect.microsoft.com/XboxLIVEupdate
DO NOT post in the public Xbox support forums (only use the private Kinect Beta forums)

The Xbox LIVE and Kinect Beta information has been updated on the Microsoft Connect website (https://connect.microsoft.com/XboxLIVEupdate). Your console should be prompted for a system update within the next 24 hours. Kinect hardware is being packed and will be shipped to the address you provided when applying for this program. Please be patient and review the Microsoft Connect website for any status updates.

For any troubleshooting or program questions, please review the support information at https://connect.microsoft.com/XboxLIVEupdate

Congratulations, we look forward to your participation!

Sincerely,

Xbox LIVE Beta Team

We hope you understand our decision. Also, we believe it is absolutely idiotic that some people that get accepted into the beta program, and that accepted the above are still leaking information to the web. They should love the fact that they are beta testers and comply to this NDA that comes with that responsibility, instead of trying to get their two minutes of fame on the internet. What do you think?

Caution Beta testers

First off, if you decide to leak information as a beta tester, be prepared for this. Second, Kotaku reports that if you accept the beta testing program, then you also accept that you will be losing your communication capabilities with those outside the beta program. This is probably due to the fact that Microsoft wants their information surrounding Kinect to be kept secret at this point (see the above letter). Secondly, the voice chat has been improved on the software update coming with Kinect: and this is probably not compatible with the old Xbox Live software.

Furthermore, any marketplace purchases for your avatar are said to be lost for now, but these will probably magically get back in November when Kinect launches: no worries! So, have fun in the beta program, you lucky few!

Want to know other experiences with Kinect? Check our other preview here and here.