Microsoft Corp aims to upstage rival Sony Corp with a console that goes well beyond gaming and helps transform media viewing, a long-cherished but elusive goal.
The software giant is betting its first new video game console in eight years, which goes on sale on Friday, will help sustain its position as a dominant player in gaming hardware. It also hopes to build a high-margin, rapid-growth business that plays a bigger role in how people watch television and consume media content.
The console has received early positive reviews for its performance, interface and exclusive launch games. Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing and strategy officer for Xbox, said preorders for Xbox One were running at twice the rate of 2005's Xbox 360 but declined to elaborate.
"We continue to be on track for the biggest launch in Xbox history," Mehdi said. "We're building the largest volume of consoles that we've ever done." He added that the company is anticipating an adequate supply to meet demand.
Revenue from Xbox games and consoles, including the blockbuster "Halo" game franchise, yielded 10 percent of total Microsoft sales in the last fiscal year. A successful launch could give a much-needed lift to the software titan, which is trying to become a significant player in hardware.
Microsoft wants to become a "devices and services" giant as it struggles to find the right formula and hire a new chief executive to take on Google Inc, Apple Inc, and Amazon.com Inc in a mobile-computing era.
Japan's Sony, which launched its new PlayStation 4 gaming console last week, and Nintendo Co Ltd, which has struggled with slow sales of its next-generation Wii U console, have also crammed media apps and content onto their machines, but analysts say Microsoft is taking it a step further.
The Xbox One, which will launch in 13 markets worldwide, will cater to its loyal gamer fan base with exclusive titles like "Forza Motorsport 5" and "Ryse: Son of Rome." Beyond that, the company hopes the device crosses over to the mainstream and becomes a family entertainment center.
MONEY IN THE LIVING ROOM
To entice TV viewers and simplify their viewing experience, the new device comes with features like voice control via its Kinect input device - ostensibly in place of a remote - and the ability to integrate it with cable boxes.
As with the PlayStation and Nintendo's Wii U, the Xbox One comes loaded with Netflix and other popular media apps. But Microsoft