Microsoft Corp.'s new video game system, expected
to be unveiled at a game technology conference on Friday, will have
the power of a high-end gaming system and the flexibility of a
Sources close to the project, dubbed "Xbox" by company
insiders, told The Associated Press Monday that the game consoles
themselves would be based on the same components that power
The devices will contain hard drives and memory components
similar to those of PCs, as well as the same microprocessors that
power high-end personal computers. The consoles will also be
Internet-compatible, allowing users to take part in multiplayer
games with people around the country.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the
console and games would be "competitively priced," with the
Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation2 and Sega Dreamcast. The system is
not likely to reach store shelves until 2001.
Microsoft declined to comment, other than to note that company
chairman Bill Gates is to address the Game Developers Conference in
San Jose, Calif., on Friday.
The San Jose Mercury News reported Monday that the game console
would feature a 600 megahertz processor and 128 megabytes of
random-access memory features normally found on
better-than-average home computers.
A company source said Microsoft discussed the Xbox with a number
of independent game programmers and developers and found interest
to be high. Many developers have already written games to be run on
the Windows operating system, a stripped-down version of which will
power the Xbox.
Thus, few changes will be needed to move existing PC games to
the Xbox. Microsoft officials think that will give them an
advantage by having established games as soon as the system is
introduced to the public. It also will save developers time and
The introduction of a new gaming platform can be a risky
business. Sega Enterprises Ltd. of Japan bombed when it introduced
the Sega Saturn back in 1996 and was quickly overtaken by the
original Sony PlayStation a year later. Only last fall, when Sega
introduced its new Dreamcast machine, did the company make a
comeback in the gaming market.
The Sega Dreamcast, which uses software developed jointly with
Microsoft, currently retails for $199.99, with games costing
anywhere from $29.99 to $49.99 each.
Sony's new PlayStation2, introduced Saturday in Japan, is
selling for about $370 and has sold nearly 1 million copies so far,
Sony says. Prices for the U.S. version, expected to be introduced
in September, have not been set.
The PlayStation2 is the most advanced platform currently on the
market. It has the ability to play audio CDs and DVDs and link to
the Internet for multiplayer games and basic World Wide Web access.
Nintendo's latest offering, the Nintendo 64, currently sells for
less than $100, though the company is planning to release a
high-tech successor in time for Christmas.
On the Net: Microsoft site: http://www.microsoft.com