Microsoft has quietly removed its Facebook and Twitter apps from the Xbox 360 in its latest dashboard update. According to multiple sources familiar with Microsoft's Xbox plans, the move is designed to encourage Xbox users to use the new Internet Explorer browser on the console. Although the removal occurred during a private beta phase of the new Xbox dashboard, Microsoft has started broadly distributing its latest update this week.

Microsoft still lists the apps as available over at its Xbox Live page, but they are no longer listed in the company's app marketplace for Xbox. Existing users who downloaded and installed the apps can still run them on an Xbox 360 console, but new users will no longer be able to access the apps.

We understand that the latest Xbox dashboard update is currently being distributed to around three million consoles in what's described as a "pre-launch" phase. A global push of the update is scheduled for October 23rd, according to our sources. We've reached out to Microsoft for clarification on the Twitter and Facebook app removals and we'll update you accordingly. If you've not received the Xbox dashboard update just yet, you may need to wait until the larger push on October 23rd.