Microsoft execs comment on PlayStation Portable

Xbox supremos unconvinced by Sony handheld plan.

Senior executives from Microsoft's Xbox division have commented on Sony's plans for the PlayStation Portable, with Peter Moore dismissing the console's launch as being similar to a company trying to challenge the Windows operating system.

Nintendo's dominance of the handheld market makes Sony's launch "like developing your own little operating system and saying, 'Well, I'm going to challenge Windows'," Moore told questioners at a Halo 2 Backstage Pass event in Seattle late last week, according to a report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Chief Xbox officer Robbie Bach was less dismissive of the system, but he argued that the launch was largely irrelevant to the Xbox business. "I think, in general, it's different than our [console] business," he told the audience.

"We've yet to see anybody make a meaningful connection between having a console and having a handheld," he continued, although he did acknowledge that Nintendo had attempted to do so with the GameCube and GBA link-up.

However, Bach did suggest that the launch of PSP might actually have an upside for Microsoft, by dividing Sony's attention and making them lose focus on the main home console race. "If Sony is distracted by way of a war with Nintendo, that's fine with us," he concluded.

While Nintendo has largely failed to leverage its huge Game Boy Advance installed base in the home console race, despite continuing to promote the link-up features of many key titles, Sony is thought to be hopeful that the PSP will help to drive consumers to the PlayStation brand in future.

The PlayStation 3 is expected to feature wireless LAN functionality which will allow it to communicate with nearby PSP units, and may potentially be used to transfer media such as music, movies and pictures as well as for game functions - although whether consumers will respond positive to such functionality remains to be seen.

Moore's comments, meanwhile, are liable to raise eyebrows in many quarters - not least since it comes from a company which itself challenged a hugely dominant market leader when it launched the Xbox against Sony's PlayStation 2.

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