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Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Microsoft Unveils "Halo 3" Special Edition Console

Instead of announcing the highly anticipated new pricing for its Xbox 360 game console, Microsoft unveiled on Thusday its plans release Xbox 360 Halo 3 Special Edition console, available in September.

Contrary to expectations that Microsoft would lower the price of Xbox in response to a similar move made this week by Sony for its PlayStation 3 console, Microsoft did not announce such a move but didn't rule it out as an option.

On Tuesday night at the opening news conference for the E3 Media and Business Summit, the company announced the European availability of the premium Xbox 360 Elite starting Aug. 24 and unveiled the Xbox 360 Halo 3 Special Edition Console, as well as several new additions to the Xbox 360 accessories lineup.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 Halo 3 Special Edition console features a Spartan green and gold finish and comes with matching Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, 20GB Hard Drive, Headset, Play & Charge Kit, and "Halo 3" Gamer Pics and Theme available via Xbox LIVE download. Note that Halo 3 game not included at that it is sold separately. Component HD AV cable and ethernet cable (no HDMI cable) are also included in the package.The device will be available in September.

Microsoft also showcased a new lineup of holiday games for the Xbox 360. Microsoft demonsrtated the live online broadcast, with titles such as the epic finale to the "Halo" series, "Halo 3"; the successor to the seminal "Grand Theft Auto" franchise, "Grand Theft Auto IV," featuring exclusive content for Xbox LIVE; "Madden NFL 08" with high-definition game play; and the "Rock Band," where players can perform music from the world?s biggest rock artists with their friends as a virtual band.

Microsoft also hopes to attract more casual gamers with two new casual games for later this year. One is a multiplayer "party game" based on its "Viva Pinata" franchise, and the other is based on the movie trivia board game "Scene It?"

Microsoft also announced a new Xbox 360 Messenger Kit, allowing gamers to chat with friends on Xbox LIVE and Windows XP- and Windows Vista-based PCs. The Xbox 360 Messenger Kit includes a Chatpad and Xbox 360 Headset, and will be available beginning Sept. 6. ERP $29.99 (U.S.).

In addition, new Xbox 360 wireless controllers will be available in pink, dark blue and light blue colors. These new colors will be available in October. ERP $49.99 (U.S.).

Disney movies at Xbox Live download menu

Microsoft also announced the addition of Walt Disney Co. films to the Xbox 360's download service, Xbox Live.

Disney joins the ranks of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate among studios contributing high-definition titles to the fast-growing platform. Among the 35 titles that will be made available beginning Tuesday are "Bridge to Terabithia," "The Queen" and "Deja Vu."

Xbox still has some catching up to do in the Disney department compared with Apple's iTunes, which has a broader array of Disney films on tap as well as bigger titles, including "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." That might have something to do with tight ties between Apple and Disney's Pixar.

Microsoft reported robust numbers for Xbox Live, which recently surpassed 7 million members, projecting reaching 10 million by this time next year.

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