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Microsoft Corp. chairman and co-founder Bill Gates confirmed that the new Xbox console would ship already this year and once again said the new gaming machine would be a sort of entertainment hub rather than a pure console for playing games.

“This year…we are going to ship this next Xbox,” Bill Gates is reported to have said during this year’s annual meeting of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

The Xbox console which is likely to be officially branded as the Xbox 360 will be announced during a half an hour special show at MTV on the 12th of May, 2005. Nevertheless, no Microsoft official had revealed any target timeframes for commercial release of the console before Bill Gates.

In addition to tip about the launch timeframe, Microsoft’s Gates revealed some peculiarities about the console. He confirmed once again that the Xbox 360 will be more like an entertainment hub that complements and combines Media Center PCs, television, communications, gaming and other activities like listening to music. Mr. Gates indicated that the graphics user interface (GUI) in the Xbox 360, which is code-named Xenon, will resemble that of Windows XP Media Center Edition.

“If you’re used to the Media Centre menu, when you use this Xenon you’ll see a menu a lot like that that lets you get photos, TV, music and all those different things,” Microsoft’s chairman said.

“Video game players want to be able to chat with their buddies, know when others are present online, and will want to access their music and photos on their consoles in an interface already familiar to them,” Mr. Gates added, according to an Associated Press report.

Microsoft Xbox 360 console is based around microprocessor developed by IBM, high-definition visual processing unit designed by ATI Technologies, I/O controller engineered by SiS and some other key components. The gaming machine will feature wireless network connectivity and will provide a broad set of multimedia capabilities, it is projected.

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