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Microsoft Corp., the world’s most influential maker of software who is desperately trying to dethrone Sony from the position of the top maker of game consoles, has initiate sales of its highly-anticipated Xbox 360 game console. The device is currently available in 4500 outlets around the U.S. and Microsoft is already calling the launch as one of the most significant in the company’s history.

“The debut of Xbox 360 marks one of the biggest consumer launches in Microsoft’s history. With its sheer power, portfolio of graphically stunning games, rich online capabilities, and features for enjoying music, movies and photos, Xbox 360 delivers integrated digital gaming and entertainment experiences that simply can’t be matched,” said Robbie Bach, president of the entertainment and devices division at Microsoft and chief Xbox officer.

Microsoft said that more than 4500 retailers opened their doors on the 22nd of November having the Xbox 360 gaming machines in stock.

Analysts expect the Redmond, Washington-based software giant to ship between 1.5 million and 2 million Xbox 360 consoles to sell in the retail this year, up from 1.5 million of the original Xbox consoles which were planned to be shipped in 2001.

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 provide a broad set of multimedia capabilities in addition to games. Depending on the bundle, Microsoft Xbox 360 costs $299 or $399. The machine launches along with 18 game titles of various genres.

The commercial launch of the Xbox 360 happens months before the main rival Sony intros its PlayStation 3, which is likely to help Microsoft to boost its market share in the market of video game consoles, analysts believe.

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