Microsoft released its Xbox video-gaming console this morning at midnight at a Toys "R" Us store in New York's Times Square. The Xbox, which features PC-like features such as a hard disk, 3-D graphics chip, Ethernet connectivity, and Intel microprocessor, retails for $299. Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates flew to New York for the launch and personally greeted fans who were waiting in line, some of whom had been there for almost 24 hours.
"The future of gaming starts today, and it starts with Xbox," said Gates. "Xbox is a key part of our strategy to drive the digital-entertainment revolution and deliver the future of interactive entertainment to the home. It's a great example of how Microsoft is innovating. But most important, it's incredibly cool." So cool, in fact, that even Gates got into the act a bit earlier this week during a Comdex keynote demonstration of the Xbox. Gates set up and turned on an Xbox, quipping, "Maybe we should do that for the PC," as the game system booted in just seconds.
Xbox is shipping alongside several games, including Dead or Alive 3, Halo, NFL Fever 2002, Oddworld: Munch's Odyssee, and Project Gotham Racing. As many as 30 titles will be available by the end of the year (and several others in the coming months) from leading game developers such as Activision, Electronic Arts, Konami, Namco, and Sega of America. Microsoft expects to sell 1.5 million Xbox units by the end of the year.