In an unexpected move that ignores the gaming industry tradition of showcasing new systems at the annual E3 Entertainment Expo trade show, Microsoft will officially launch its next-generation Xbox on TV in early May. Specifically, MTV will be showcasing the next Xbox during a 30 minute special that will run on all of its networks May 12 and 13.

"Just as MTV revolutionized the way the world experiences music, the next-generation video game console from Xbox will spark a revolution in how consumers experience games and other forms of digital entertainment," says Peter Moore, the Microsoft corporate vice president who oversees Xbox marketing. "We are ecstatic about our alliance with MTV and unveiling a video game platform in a way that has never been done."

Moore noted that the company had chosen to reveal the next Xbox on TV before the E3 event because it wanted Xbox fans to see the new system first. "I think we need to signal a change that things aren't going to be the same in the next generation \[of video games\]," he added. "While \[the next Xbox is about\] gaming at its core, there's a much bigger and broader entertainment message that we need to get out there."

Actor Elijah Wood, who played "Frodo" in the "Lord of the Rings" movies, will host the event, dubbed "MTV Presents: The Next Generation Xbox Revealed." During the broadcast, Microsoft will showcase the Xbox 2 system, various Xbox 2 games, the new Xbox 2 graphical interface, and changes to the Xbox Live online game service. The broadcast will also feature celebrity and athlete interviews and exclusive insider information about the making of the new Xbox, Microsoft says.

The MTV launch of the next Xbox comes just days before the E3 show convenes in Los Angeles. Microsoft says it will discuss the new Xbox in more detail at the show. But the MTV launch is clearly designed to upstage Sony, which had previously scheduled its E3 press conference for the PlayStation 3 for just hours before the Microsoft press conference that would have originally seen the debut of the Xbox 2. Microsoft claims to have scheduled the MTV event a month ago, and representatives there say they didn't know about Sony's plans at the time.