Microsoft unveils cloud storage for Xbox 360

While Microsoft's announcements at the Electronic Entertainment Expo yesterday might not have come as a surprise, the company did have one thing up its sleeve - but, strangely, it waited until after the event to spring it on users.

Microsoft's big announcements for E3 - various Kinect-specific and Kinect-enhanced titles including Star Wars Kinect, Halo 4, and a remake of the original Halo title with updated graphics - were somewhat overshadowed by an over-eager sysadmin who put the company's E3 announcement page on Xbox.com live before its time.

Now the announcements are over, and Microsoft has shared a few more details - but it's something that didn't make it into the list that has gamers pricking up their ears: cloud profile support.

Currently, gamers who play on multiple Xbox 360s are faced with a choice: they can either run through the 'Recover GamerTag' option each time they switch consoles, which is a hassle, or they can invest in a memory card and keep their profile on that.

Neither solution is perfect, but Microsoft has something waiting in the wings that will solve the problem once and for all: cloud-based storage for profiles and saved games, similar to the paid-for upgrade available to PlayStation Network users under the name PSN+.

"We are making it easier for you to sign into your Xbox Live account from any console at any time to access your game saves and full profile," the company explained in a statement issued following the E3 event, "including items such as Microsoft Points to make purchases, Achievements, and friends.

"Cloud storage will allow you to enjoy the same great Xbox Live gaming experience even when you’re not in your own living room by giving you the option to store your game saves securely in the Xbox Live cloud instead of on a portable memory unit or your console's hard drive. Gone are the days of 'gamertag recovery.' Now all you need to do is sign in, no matter where you are!"

Details of the service are, at present, somewhat scant - and the company hasn't yet confirmed whether the cloud storage service will be made available to all Xbox Live users, or just those who pay the £40 a year required to get a fully-featured Xbox Live Gold account.