I really didn’t want to get the hopes up of any of the users of the Xbox 360 Avatar gadget, only to bring them back down again; but unfortunately I feel I may have done just that.
Sadly, animating the gadget (by leveraging the Xbox Live Avatar’s 3D API from within XNA) is not possible on Windows. This feature is reserved for Xbox 360. Microsoft apparently uses an in-house solution to present your avatar’s 3D model on the Xbox Live website and doesn’t provide a publicly accessible means for 3rd-party developers to present it.
I’ve been checking out a multitude of resources on the web, trying to see if I there would be any way of animating the gadget using workarounds and came up empty-handed. The newest version of Silverlight (version 5) shows promise for the future by allowing developers to utilize the fundamental XNA 3D libraries from within a browser, but the cold, hard fact remains: Until the libraries which provide avatar functionality are made available to 3rd-party developers on the Windows platform, the Xbox 360 Avatar gadget will have to remain motionless.
Perhaps when Windows 8 ships, other avenues will open up to allow the development of a start screen app that can display the actual 3D model of our avatars. Keep your eyes on the future…