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Redmond, we have lift-off

Finally, a console market with more than one competing platform

Microsoft Xbox has gone on sale in shops across Europe this morning, with many stores opening at midnight to cope with demand. The new console launches at £299.99 in the UK, but its price varies somewhat throughout mainland Europe. Accompanying the console are twenty launch titles, including Microsoft's highly anticipated flagship shooter Halo, Project Gotham Racing and Dead or Alive 3. Latecomer Wreckless, which was not present for the American launch, is also expected to fare well. The keenest of the new console's fans turned out to be Heathrow resident Scott Rawlins, who plucked his new console from the hands of Richard Branson himself before borrowing the millionaire's limousine for his ride home. Speaking to BBC News Online, Rawlins commented, "I only came down to see what the atmosphere was like and I found I was first in the queue." Early sales estimates are not yet available, but Microsoft has pledged to sell between four and six million of the consoles worldwide before June, 1.5 million of those in Europe. New machines are to be supplied weekly, as with November's American launch. Hundreds of fans flocked to the Virgin Megastore launch, partly to catch a glimpse of celebrities Richard Branson and Jonathan Ross, partly to have a bash at the latest games, and in most cases, to bear witness to the heavily armoured, Xbox-covered tank Microsoft had apparently hired for the day (or borrowed from one of its other deployments, perhaps). Operating the green tank were several Grinch look-alikes, struggling to look festive in their green Christmas outfits. Of course, as any child (or Jim Carey fan) will attest, the Grinch stole Christmas, and so I suppose one has to deduce that Microsoft's Grinch plans to steal the console market… Related Feature - Xbox launch tonight!

Source - BBC News Online