'I bet we can take Sony next generation' - Ballmer

Fighting talk from Microsoft's outspoken CEO.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has expressed his confidence in the company's ability to defeat Sony in the next generation console battle, pointing out that the Xbox has become a major player despite the fact that it continues to lose money.

Ballmer, who is well known for his outspoken comments and bombastic presentation style, described Xbox as being an example of his efforts - along with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates - to ensure that the company continues to invest in new areas.

"Look at what we have done with Xbox," he said in an interview this week at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference. "We may still be losing money, but we have gone from nowhere to a significant player with a whole different approach. We've generated something brand new."

"I bet we can take Sony next generation," he continued. "I am betting we can take Sony in the next generation."

Microsoft is expected to formally announce its next-generation platform this autumn; for the last three years, the company has held "X" events in Europe in autumn (X01 through to X03), but industry rumour suggests that something different is being planned for the media in its place this year, with the unveiling of a successor to Xbox a distinct possibility.

The company has previously stated that it intends to be first to market with a next generation console, and is expected to launch its next hardware platform in mid to late 2005. Early development kits for the system, which are based on Apple's powerful G5 machines, have already shipped to a number of Microsoft's development and publishing partners.

Earlier this week, Sony revealed that it will be premiering its next-gen hardware - generally known as PlayStation 3 - before the end of this year, with development kits set to ship at the start of 2005. All three platform holders are expected to show off their next-gen systems at E3 next May.

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