Microsoft has announced that, beginning this week, retail shipments of the console will be twice or three times higher than at present.

The company had previously said that anyone will be able to walk into a store and pick up an Xbox 360 within four to six weeks of the DICE Summit in mid February.

It would appear that any component issues clogging up the production of the world's first next-generation console have now been completely ironed out, and the console ought to be readily available in all territories within a matter of weeks.

"With component supplies in full production and third manufacturing partner Celestica Inc. now producing the next-generation console along with partners Wistron Corp. and Flextronics Corp., Microsoft is producing more Xbox 360 consoles than ever," the company stated.

The much publicised stock shortages have plagued the company since the launch of the console in November 2005, and its impact on the wider industry was heavily touted by a number of publishers as a reason for lower than expected software sales and a general lack of consumer spending, during what is traditionally the busiest period of the year for the games industry.

Speaking at the recent DICE Summit, Xbox boss Peter Moore had stated that an end to the issues was very much in sight, although industry watchers remained sceptical in the light of renewed reports of manufacturing problems for the machine.

If the production run is in fact at the peak Microsoft now claims, retailers, publishers and consumers ought to be considerably happier in the coming months, and Microsoft will be on-track to gain the market lead it so desperately wanted before Sony launches the PS3.

Xbox boss Peter "Gerrard Houllier" Moore commented: "Today we have turned a major corner. With more consoles on their way to retail, 80 games available by June, and new content and experiences coming to Xbox Live all the time, there has never been a better time to own an Xbox 360."

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Paul Loughrey

Paul Loughrey

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