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Next-Gen Xbox In Stores This November

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Microsoft spends cash and pushes hard to beat Sony and Nintendo to market with a new console.

By now, it seems everyone has heard something about Microsoft’s next generation gaming console, the Xbox 360. While all the news about the device has been buzz and speculation so far, as no official details have been released, tonight’s MTV special introducing the console will be the real thing.

From comments made by Microsoft’s chairman Bill Gates, the Xbox 360 will be more than just a box that will run Halo 2. The console will have multimedia management capabilities similar to its Media Center PC software. Microsoft envisions the Xbox 360 as sitting in the middle of a family’s home, dishing out music and movies as well as games.

The concept of an entertainment center used to be a wooden cabinet, stacked with various pieces of home electronics. To borrow a quote from The Incredibles, that ship has sailed. The new entertainment center handles all types of media and can bring more into the home via a high-speed Internet connection.

Competitors Sony and Nintendo have remained quiet in the face of all the Microsoft chatter. Sony and its PlayStation 2 lead the home videogame console market, and the PS2 has a much larger library of games available. Nintendo’s GameCube slipped behind the Xbox to third place. All three companies will be at the Electronic Entertainment Expo next week in Los Angeles.

Sony and Nintendo probably won’t have their new consoles ready for release until 2006. While Nintendo has no aspirations to develop a console that does more than play good games, Sony will have more features in its PlayStation 3.

One important feature will be support for whichever DVD format emerges as a standard from the competition between Sony and Toshiba. One standard, either Sony’s Blu-ray or Toshiba’s HD DVD, will have to be accepted before next-generation DVD players and drives will be accepted by the market.

By launching early, Microsoft misses out on support for the new standard. The Redmond-based company may feel a new standard won’t have market impact for a while, which would give them time to develop their third generation console and to support the new DVD standard.

That may be dangerous thinking. Sega beat Sony to market with its DreamCast game console. The debut of the PlayStation promptly blew past the DreamCast in sales, and has kept on going. Could the same scenario happen when the PlayStation 3 finally hits the shelves?

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Next-Gen Xbox In Stores This November
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