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Xbox One beta program lets console owners preview future system updates

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Microsoft is introducing a new beta program for Xbox One that will let console owners test system updates prior to their official launch in an effort to gather feedback about upcoming changes.

Xbox One's beta program kicks off today, Feb. 20, and Microsoft is inviting select Xbox Live members to "preview new features coming to Xbox One in a March system update and future system updates as they become available." Selected participants will receive a message through Xbox Live inviting them to register for the program.

Microsoft says it will start rolling out the next system update to beta participants sometime next week. Xbox One owners taking part in the system update beta program will not be able to use party features with other users who are not previewing the March system update, Microsoft says.

"Features that will not be enabled during the preview include party chat, party invites, party matchmaking and party visibility," the company said in an email. "Once the March system update becomes available to all consoles worldwide, new party features will function normally for all Xbox One users. If this is an issue, you should consider not signing up for this beta."

The February system update for Xbox One was distributed last week, adding a handful of new features and user interface improvements. The system's next update will add new multiplayer-focused features planned to hit in advance of the release of Titanfall for Xbox One.