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Sunday, August 21, 2005
  best- Microsoft rolling out two Xbox versions

When Microsoft Corp’s new Xbox videogames console comes out this fall, consumers will be able to choose between a fully loaded system and a more basic version without a hard drive, wireless controller and other features.

The premium Xbox 360 console will sell for US$399.99 in the United States, Canada and Mexico – nearly triple the price of the current system – and 399.99 euros in continental Europe.

Meanwhile, the scaled-back version, dubbed Xbox 360 Core System, will go for US$299.99, and 299.99 euros in Europe.

Various accessories, like 2GB detachable hard drive and wireless controller that will come standard with the premium version, will be sold separately and can be added to the less expensive Core console.

Other features that can be added to that console include a wireless controller and TV remote, a headset for the Xbox Live online service, and an Ethernet cable for high-speed Internet connections.

On target

Microsoft said it remains on target to ship the new Xbox to stores in North America, Europe and Japan this holiday season, ahead of Sony’s PlayStation3, which is slated to replace the market leading PlayStation2 sometime next spring.

Historically, there’s been one price point and one configuration. You got it whether you wanted or not.

Microsoft isn’t worried consumers will wince at the price hike. Both versions will support high-definition visuals and play music and movies, among other feature that weren’t built into original Xbox, which cost US299 four years ago. The price has since dropped to US$150.

Microsoft sells its current console at a loss, because its original goal with the Xbox was mainly to break into the lucrative gaming market. It makes money-selling games, but doesn’t expect its home and entertainment division to post profits regularly until 2007.

The core console won’t be able to play games designed for the original Xbox, unless a consumer shells out US$99.99 to add a hard drive.
Microsoft has been asking developers working on new games to make them so they can be played on both fully loaded and basic versions.
The company has not yet said how much it will charge for the new Xbox in Japan, where the original console has struggled to compete with PlayStation2.

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