Microsoft has announced new Xbox LIVE features that are designed to make the Xbox 360 the central focus of your living room entertainment set-up.

Flinging itself headlong into the streaming music market, will offer Xbox LIVE subscribers access to millions of songs streaming through Xbox 360.

Free to Xbox LIVE gold subscribers, such Xboxers will be able to create their own personalised radio stations and the like.

There's also "Xbox LIVE Party" for movies. Microsoft says: "Go to the cinema with your friends whether you are sitting on the same couch or in living rooms across the country".

From later this year, movie-watching Xbox owners will be able to share a "virtual theater" and their avatar on the screen, as they "listen to each other laugh and cry at the movie through voice chat on Xbox LIVE".

Microsoft has also announced that Xbox will deliver what's described as a first - instant on 1080p movies and TV with 5.1 surround sound - direct to consoles connected to compatible HD TVs through the Xbox LIVE social entertainment network.

Due this autumn, a "broad selection" of movies and TV shows from what's called "Zune video on Xbox 360" will be available to start and stream instantly, in HD at the push of a button.

Microsoft has increased where Xbox LIVE offers its TV shows and movies, growing from eight to 18, by adding Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

UK Xbox owners will see the already announced partnership with Sky that lets them watch live or on-demand TV from Sky Player on Xbox 360.