Test Xbox Live network, get free Avatar items

By Steve Watts, Mar 10, 2011 7:45am PST

Microsoft is inviting users to partake in network testing this month, in an initiative it has named Xbox Live Labs. The voluntary program starts today, and runs through March 27. It's available to US Live members only, but Microsoft may expand it to other regions for the next round of tests.

Basically, starting up the Xbox Live Labs app turns your 360 into a network testing machine, sending the results to Microsoft so it can improve service. Microsoft is careful to mention that the results won't be used to identify participants. You can't play games or watch movies while using the app, so reserve it for sometime you won't be playing anyway.

The company is throwing in a few goodies to entice users. Each completed test gets you an Avatar item and a zero point achievement. The program offers three Avatar items in all (lab coat, brain helmet, mad scientist hair), so it doesn't seem too difficult to grab them all in the next few weeks.

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