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X02: Xbox Live European launch details

Updated - Microsoft officially spills the beans...

Details of Microsoft's European Xbox Live service have emerged this morning courtesy of broadband partner Telewest. The service will begin beta testing between October 30th and November 29th, with an open test from November 30th as part of "Xbox Live Test Drive" in the UK, France and Germany.

The Test Drive phase will see gamers in the three chosen countries able to order Test Drive packs online, which includes everything the regular starter pack will; voice communicator, software and 12 months' pre-paid subscription - however, months leading up to the official launch will be free! The 12 months' subscription begins on the official launch date.

The full service will launch in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden on the first anniversary of the system's release in Europe - March 14th, 2003 - and the Xbox Live starter pack will go on sale then for £39.99 / €59.99. This includes 12 months' subscription, all the software, the Xbox voice communicator peripheral and Xbox Live-enabled copies of MotoGP and Whacked.

Xbox Live will be supported in Europe by BT Openworld, Noos, NTL, Telewest Broadband and Wanadoo.