NEWS - Thursday, March 7, 2002

Microsoft Moves on Japan Probs

Microsoft moves to deal with Xbox flaws in Japan

TOKYO, March 7 - Microsoft Corp stepped up its efforts on Thursday to deal with an increasing number of customer complaints in Japan over scratched discs in its Xbox video game machine, offering to repair or replace any defective products.

Microsoft Japan said earlier this week it would replace any consoles determined to be defective.

On Thursday it said it would unconditionally replace all hardware and any damaged software because it found some scratches on discs that could not be explained.

"We do not consider this a recall," Microsoft spokeswoman Midori Takahashi said, adding that the scratches found on the edges of the DVD (digital versatile discs) did not interfere with game playing.

The software giant launched the Xbox in Japan two weeks ago, hoping to convince Japan's notoriously fickle gaming public and software creators that its machine can rival those of Sony Corp and Nintendo Co Ltd on their home turf.

The scratches, which Microsoft says were most likely caused by DVD discs spinning in the console, improper placement on loading trays or by the sliding tray itself, were also reported in the United States after the Xbox was launched in mid-November.

Highlighting the importance of the Japanese market, Microsoft has made special efforts to cater to the market here with a specially designed, smaller controller and a limited edition of 50,000 transluscent Xbox consoles available only in Japan.

The spokeswoman said Microsoft had not determined the cost of repairing or replacing any consoles or discs.

Although Microsoft has not published official figures, sources said it was able to ship about 125,000 Xbox consoles in the first three days after it went on sale on February 22.

In March 2000, just after Sony launched the PlayStation 2, the successor ot its best-selling PlayStation machine, it suffered a setback when a glitch in software memory cards disabled the playback of DVD videos.


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