Microsoft touts Xbox debut date


Microsoft's much-hyped Xbox video game machine will make its market debut this fall for a $300 price tag.

The software behemoth pegged Nov. 8 as the big date for the $299 Xbox's debut on Wednesday. The Xbox is Microsoft's initial move to challenge industry leaders Sony and Nintendo for dominance in the $6.5 billion video game industry. But machines like the Xbox will quickly incorporate other functions, and could enable interactive TV activities, among other things. Nintendo is launching its next-generation GameCube console in the fall as well. But Microsoft said it expects to sell out the 1 million to 1.5 million Xbox units it expects to have in the market through the holiday sales season. It aims to have 600,000 to 800,000 units in retail outlets for the November introduction.

Today's announcement coincides with deals Sony has unveiled this week with AOL and RealNetworks as it circles its wagons against the Redmond, Wash. software giant. Microsoft reportedly will prime Xbox sales with $500 million in marketing over the first 18 months for the company's biggest product launch ever. - Richard Tedesco

``Neither one of us (Microsoft and Nintendo) are going to have any trouble selling hardware this holiday season,'' Robbie Bach, Microsoft's ``Chief Xbox Officer'', said in an interview at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the video game industry's annual trade show.

The Xbox entry is controversial because some analysts doubt the market can support three different platforms, pointing to the failure this year of Sega Enterprises Ltd.'s Dreamcast machine.

It expects to have 600,000 to 800,000 units on store shelves for the Nov. 8 launch, Bach said.