Microsoft announced this week that the world's top game developers are supporting Xbox, its upcoming PC-based video game console. More than 150 companies, including heavyweights Activision, Capcom, Eidos, Konami, Midway, and Namco, have signed on to create titles for the machine, which will sport a Pentium III processor, a hard drive, and other PC parts when its released in late 2001. In addition to third party support, Microsoft rolled out a new Xbox logo and announced that "Xbox" will be the final name for the product, though it had considered others.

"If gamers think Xbox couldn't get any more exciting, they better hold on," said Microsoft senior VP Robbie Bach, who oversees the Games Division at Microsoft. "We have several additional announcements in the works that will excite them even more. Gamers haven't seen anything yet." The comment was a veiled reference to Xbox competitor Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2); Sony had pre-announced a press conference for next week, and yesterday's Xbox event was clearly designed to take the steam out of that. Microsoft will be playing a public relations game for the next 12 months as it tries to offset any gains seen by the PS2, which goes on sale soon.

The Xbox currently specs out with a Pentium III 733, 64 MB RAM, an 8 GB hard drive, a custom 3D graphics processor and 3D audio with 64 channels of sound. Xbox developers will face a familiar Windows-based programming environment with enhanced DirectX capabilities. Analysts note that the Xbox is due to ship in October 2001, at precisely the same time as Whistler, the next version of Windows 2000. It's likely that the Xbox will use some form of Whistler as its underlying OS