Microsoft on Sunday trimmed the price of its Xbox 360 video-game console to make way for a new model with a bigger hard drive. Microsoft's midrange Xbox 360...

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Microsoft on Sunday trimmed the price of its Xbox 360 video-game console to make way for a new model with a bigger hard drive.

Microsoft’s midrange Xbox 360 console with a 20-gigabyte hard drive will cost $299 in the U.S., down from $350.

An updated Xbox 360 is to arrive in stores in early August. The $350 replacement will sport a 60GB hard drive, significantly more space for storing the games, TV shows and movies Microsoft sells on its Xbox Live Marketplace Web site. Microsoft also is expected to give the Xbox a little extra appeal by streaming movies and TV episodes through a high-speed Internet service offering by Netflix.

The long-rumored deal could be announced as early as today at the E3 Media and Business Summit in Los Angeles.

Microsoft did not adjust prices for its more basic Xbox 360 Arcade version, which has 256 megabytes of storage and costs $280, or for the Xbox 360 Elite, a $450 model with a 120GB hard drive.

Flickr / Getty Images

Hobby may become a moneymaker

Flickr, a popular online photo-sharing site owned by Yahoo, is teaming up with Seattle’s Getty Images to offer shutterbugs a chance to turn their hobby into a moneymaking endeavor.

Under a partnership, Getty’s editors will peruse Flickr to find pictures that may appeal to newspapers, magazines, book publishers, advertising agencies and other businesses.

Getty will then contact photographers who posted shots with sales potential to see if they’re interested in licensing the pictures. Any ensuing sales will be split between Getty and the participating photographers.

It’s the first time that Flickr has set up a sales channel since the site started four years ago. Yahoo bought the service for about $35 million in 2005.


Dial-up bill may be going up

If you’re still paying for AOL, your bill may be going up 20 percent this month.

AOL’s cheapest dial-up Internet-access plan is going from $9.99 to $11.99 to offset costs of round-the-clock help by telephone. Subscribers can keep the $9.99 rate if they forgo full phone support, but they must change their plans to avoid an automatic price increase.

Even with the price increase, AOL’s plans are still competitive. EarthLink’s cheapest dial-up plan, at $12.50 a month, requires a year of prepayment, while Juno’s and NetZero’s $9.95 services charge for phone help, and Juno also requires a year’s commitment.


Forget to log off? Service is for you

One of the benefits of Web-based e-mail is the ability to log on from just about anywhere — at home, at work, a friend’s house, a mobile device or even a public library or cybercafe.

But what if you forget to log off?

Google’s Gmail service will now let you know if you’re still logged and give you a chance to disconnect remotely.

At the bottom of a Gmail inbox is a small notice of other active sessions. The new feature, being rolled out to users in waves, also offers information on the time and location of recent Gmail activities.

Other major Web e-mail providers — Yahoo, Microsoft’s Hotmail, and AOL — also allow simultaneous sessions, but they do not provide similar notice or ability to remotely log off.


Second Life inspires software

Google released software that lets users create virtual three-dimensional worlds on the Internet, an effort to tap into the popularity of online services such as Second Life.

With Google’s Lively program, users can create an online persona and virtual rooms that reflect their interests, according to a post on the company’s blog. The software was first made available for testing to students at Arizona State University, Google said.

Google, owner of the most popular search engine, is trying to lure more Web users and advertisers to its services. Lively started as a 20 percent project, a program that allows engineers to spend a fifth of their time working on their own ideas. The software may spark new competition for Second Life, where users interact in an online world.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News