In addition to rolling out the new Xbox Live Dashboard, Microsoft today released an Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone users, and it's actually a pretty great virtual remote for navigating through the menus even while someone else is playing a game or watching a video. The phone can connect to your console whether or not it's on the same Wi-Fi network (although it helps if you are). From the main screen, you can quickly see how your Xbox 360 is being used, search for new games and media to play, and it even functions as a very basic remote control, with directional arrows and the A / B / X / Y buttons, that can be pulled up at any time from the bottom drawer.

Just like with the new Dashboard's "Bing" search, you can use the Companion to find games, TV shows, movies, and music (text only, no voice functionality). The games pages will tell you which of your friends have played recently (and how long ago that might've been), list your achievements, and suggest related games. Choosing to play will load up the title on your screen, prompting you to be sure if you're already playing something else or watching video.

Speaking of, TV show and movie pages provide cast pages to quickly search for other content featuring the actor (no biographical data that we saw), and more importantly, you can choose to play the selected video via Zune, Hulu, or Netflix (pending availability). The bottom bar will show basic video playback controls (play / pause, fast forward, rewind, etc.) from the main screen while you're watching video, but be warned there's a slight delay when pressing — if you're trying to locate an exact frame, you're best off switching to the Xbox 360 controller.

If you own a Windows Phone and an Xbox 360, this app is a must-download — you will find use in the features. Best of all, it's also free.