Microsoft Corp has opened the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) with an Xbox 360 briefing that outlined the company’s plans to not only offer games but a portal to movies, television and social networking. In addition it also unveiled its new controller-free gaming plans with ‘Project Natal’.

“Today with cultural visionaries at our side and controller-free gaming on our horizon, Xbox 360 authored a new page in home entertainment history,” said Don Mattrick, senior vice president for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft.

“For us, this E3 is about breaking down barriers — between generations, between games and entertainment, and most important, between video game players and everyone else — in a way that only Xbox 360 can.”

At the briefing Microsoft premiered 10 exclusive new games, new Xbox Live services, instant on 1080p HD streaming movies and TV, Facebook, and the all new ‘Project Natal’.

‘Project Natal’ was unveiled for the first time at E3 and represents Xbox 360’s take on casual gaming.

It is basically a new way of playing video games that requires no controller. It does this by using an RGB camera, depth sensor, multi-array microphone and custom running proprietary software (all in one device) to capture your full body movements in 3D, while responding to commands, directions and even a shift of emotion in your voice.

“The next step in interactive entertainment is to make the controller disappear,” said acclaimed director and producer Steven Spielberg, who was onboard to introduce the product.

“With Project natal, we’ll see games that bring everyone together through technology that actually recognises you.”

In addition to this it also announced its commitment to social networking, by allowing users to access Facebook through the console.

“We are always asking ourselves how to the TV more social,” said John Schappert, corporate vice president of Interactive Entertainment Live, Software and Studios at Microsoft.

“By bringing Facebook to Xbox Live, we’re not only extending the walls of your living room beyond your home to your friends in different corners of the world, we’re creating the definitive social network.”

As well as this it also demonstrated the new instant on 1080p movie and TV service for Xbox Live, with partnerships with Zune, Netflix and BSkyB Ltd.