If you've always dreamed of paying for your Xbox 360 downloads with greenbacks instead of Microsoft Points, now is your chance. Microsoft on Friday announced a new Xbox Live public beta, and according to a post by Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb, the beta has a significant change: the ability to pay with local currency. Unlike previous betas, you don't have to sign-up for this one on a Microsoft site. Instead, gamers in all 41 Xbox Live countries (except Japan) will see an Xbox Beta Program tile on the home hub of the Xbox 360 dashboard.
The new local currency switch for Xbox Live was one of our top picks for features we wanted to see in the new Xbox. The aging Microsoft Points system made sense in the early days of Xbox, since it allowed the company to use a single "currency" worldwide. But now with the widespread availability of digital stores that can handle local transactions like the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store, it's about time Microsoft Points disappeared.
Microsoft apparently heard our pleas--mixed in with millions of others, no doubt--and announced the switch in June. Microsoft Points will be retired in the fall most likely around the time the Xbox One becomes available in November. When the switch happens, anyone with Microsoft Points left over in their account will receive local currency "equal to or greater than the marketplace value" of the points, according to a Microsoft FAQ. Microsoft Points Cards will be redeemable through 2014; any points earned through Xbox Live Rewards will also transition to local currency.
Space is limited for the new Xbox Live beta so if you want in, you'll have to sign-up fast. Once the spots are filled the beta will be closed to the public.