NEWS - Thursday, November 29, 2001

Broader Concept for Xbox

Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox video game console is part of a ``broader concept’’, the software giant’s Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said on Thursday, hinting at an oft-guessed at strategy by the company to turn the machine into a wired entertainment hub.

Microsoft originally intended to pitch an all-in-one device that could handle games, interactive TV and computer functions, but that concept was slapped down by software makers, Ballmer told analysts at an investment conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

``We went and said, hey, we have some ideas for an all-purpose box, kind of a PC, kind of a video game machine, kind of a set-top box. You know what they said? They said ’Get outta Dodge, we’re not going to write software for that thing’,’’ Ballmer said.

``We came back a year later and we said okay, we’re going to start by doing the world’s greatest video game machine, and they said okay, let’s talk,’’ Ballmer said.

Microsoft launched the Xbox two weeks ago as its first foray into the $20 billion global video game industry. The device will butt heads with Sony Corp’s PlayStation 2 console and Nintendo Co. Ltd.’s new GameCube.

The Redmond, Washington-based company has touted the Xbox’s impressive hardware and gaming abilities, but executives have kept mum about possible future uses for the device, which with its 8-gigabyte hard drive and built-in port for fast Internet connections could be used to pipe music, movies and other content into living rooms.

Ballmer said there was a larger agenda for the Xbox than just games, but he gave no details.

``We know we have to succeed but there is a broader concept there that we will pursue at some point,’’ Ballmer said. ``You can say, is it the end of the road or is there a bigger play? And the answer is yeah, there’s a bigger play we hope to get over time.’’


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