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Microsoft Highlights Xbox 360 at E3

At E3 2005 in Los Angeles, Microsoft Corp. announced it will release a free software update to Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 that will enable customers to take advantage of the Media Center Extender technologies built into Xbox 360 gaming systems to access and enjoy digital entertainment anywhere in the home. Every Xbox 360 will have Media Center Extender functionality built in and available out of the box. The Media Center Extender functionality, coupled with the software update for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, will provide customers with seamless access to digital music, video, photos, and standard and high-definition television and movies on Media Center Edition 2005-based PCs through any Xbox 360 game console in the house.

"Microsoft continues to advance its vision of digital entertainment anywhere," said Will Poole, svp of the Windows Client Business at Microsoft. "The combination of the world's most powerful gaming console, Xbox 360, with a Media Center Edition 2005-based PC results in an unprecedented home entertainment experience for our customers. By seamlessly integrating Microsoft's premium entertainment devices, we are greatly enhancing the ways in which our customers will experience entertainment in and around their homes."

The Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 experience will be accessible on Xbox 360 systems by pressing the green button on the new Xbox 360 remote control. And, for the first time ever, the extender technologies that are built into Xbox 360 will enable customers to enjoy high-definition entertainment. For example, Xbox 360 will let players stream high-definition TV and movies stored on Media Center PCs, allowing them to watch a high-definition sports event while they chat with friends in other parts of the country who are watching the same game. Or they can receive a friend's invitation to play a game while watching live television.

"By integrating diverse technology expertise and innovations across the company, Microsoft is able to deliver rich digital entertainment experiences that consumers have been asking for," said Robbie Bach, chief Xbox(R) officer at Microsoft. "The Windows XP Media Center Extender technologies in Xbox 360 will make the living room a place where both experiences seamlessly converge and are easy to enjoy." Xbox 360 is the future-generation videogame and entertainment system that places users at the center of the experience. Xbox 360 will ignite a new era of digital entertainment that is always connected, always personalized and always in high definition. Xbox 360, in addition to including Media Center Extender technologies, features the Media Blade, which will allow customers to select Remote PC to access the digital photos and music they have stored on any Windows XP-based PC.

The software update is scheduled to be released in the second half of 2005. It will be available as a free download to current Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 customers, as well as on new PCs. Xbox 360 is scheduled to be available this Christmas holiday season.

In addition, Microsoft and Pepsi-Cola North America announced a U.S. promotion to put the Xbox 360 into the hands of thousands of lucky people before the console hits store shelves. Beginning August 28, Mountain Dew and Xbox will select a winner of an Xbox 360 console every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for nine weeks straight in the "Every 10 Minutes" promotion.

To play, consumers will collect codes found under the caps of Mountain Dew and other participating Pepsi products, and enter codes in a personal online account at www.every10minutes.com/. Participants will be able to choose which 10-minute drawing to enter, and can spread codes across different drawings or stockpile codes and put them all toward one drawing. In addition, codes entered will automatically earn the participants points toward obtaining collectible merchandise and gear.

Gaming industry executives attending this year's E3 in Los Angeles will get an exclusive opportunity to be among the first 10 people with a chance to win an Xbox 360 console through a special Peel-to-Play contest. Free 20-oz. bottles of Mountain Dew containing game pieces produced exclusively for the event will be distributed to expo attendees. In addition to the 10 Xbox 360 consoles, winning game pieces will be good for a chance to win Xbox games, Mountain Dew T-shirts, hats and other prizes.

"The launch of the Xbox 360 system is the most anticipated event that will happen in gaming this year," said Dave Burwick, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Pepsi-Cola North America. "We are thrilled to partner with Microsoft and reward our loyal Mountain Dew consumers with the hottest new gaming technology before anyone can buy it in stores, in a way that only Dew can do it."

"We are excited about teaming up with Pepsi-Cola to turn up the volume on the Xbox 360 excitement," said Mitch Koch, corporate vp of Worldwide Retail Sales for Xbox. "Our co-marketing relationship is based on our commitment to deliver entertaining, top-of-the-line promotions to our customers."

In addition, to Microsoft's push for the new Xbox 360, several game publishers have announced their plans for the new system.

Square Enix Co. Ltd. will release FINAL FANTASY XI for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live.

"We're honored that Square Enix will make games like FINAL FANTASY XI for the millions of Xbox fans who have anticipated this historical moment for quite some time," said Robbie Bach, svp and chief Xbox officer in the Home and Entertainment Division at Microsoft. "Together, we will chart a new course for the future of videogame entertainment."

"Xbox has become a major force in video-game innovation, and we couldn't be more captivated by the Xbox 360 canvas," said Yoichi Wada, president of Square Enix. "As the world's first cross-platform online game with more than 500,000 users, FINAL FANTASY XI will take advantage of the incredible power of the Xbox 360 platform, immersing gamers in spellbinding stories that come to life in high definition and through collaborative online gameplay."

FINAL FANTASY XI is a massively multi-player online role-playing game (MMORPG). The original version of the game was released in May 2002 in Japan, October 2003 in North America and September 2004 in Europe, with a subscriber base now in excess of 500,000 active accounts.

EA announced that its groundbreaking Xbox 360 games symbolize its largest commitment to a next-generation platform launch. EA has committed to a broad lineup of Xbox 360 titles including MADDEN NFL 06, NEED FOR SPEED MOST WANTED, FIFA 06, TIGER WOODS PGA TOUR 06, THE GODFATHER THE GAME and NBA LIVE 06.

id Software announced that it is bringing QUAKE 4 to the Xbox 360. Currently in development by Raven Software in cooperation with id Software, the game will be debuted at the E3 in Activision's booth #1224 in the South Hall.

"QUAKE 4 utilizes the power of our groundbreaking DOOM 3 engine to transport players into a war-torn science-fiction universe graphically realized like never before," said Todd Hollenshead, ceo, id Software. "We're excited to bring the next generation experience to a new breed of console game fans."

QUAKE 4 is the first game to utilize id Software's revolutionary DOOM 3 technology. In the game, players are Matthew Kane, an elite member of Rhino Squad and Earth's valiant invasion force. Fight alone, with your squad, and in hover tanks and mechanized walkers as you engage in a heroic mission into the heart of the Strogg war machine. But, in this epic war between worlds, the only way to defeat the Strogg is to become one of them. Battle through early missions as a deadly marine, then after your capture as a marine-turned-Strogg with enhanced abilities and the power to turn the tide of the war.

THQ Inc. and its award winning development studio Relic Ent. announced THE OUTFIT, a squad-based action game for the Xbox 360. Set within war ravaged Europe during World War II, the game takes players behind enemy lines, battling the Nazi War Machine through a variety of larger than life combat missions. Scheduled to release holiday 2005, the game will make its public debut at E3) in THQ Booth #1046.

"THE OUTFIT is a perfect example of a title that is only possible with Xbox 360 technology," said Jack Sorensen, evp of worldwide studios, THQ. "Relic's unique brand of large-scale explosive action and field-level strategy easily differentiates The Outfit from any other war title released on any system to date."

"Visceral combat experiences have always been a big part of our games at Relic," said Ron Moravek, gm, Relic Ent. "The team is having a blast creating a squad-based action game that allows us to incorporate some of the strategic elements we're best known for. Delivering this level of gameplay with surround-sound and high-definition capabilities means gamers can look forward to a new level of intensity on the battlegrounds of WWII."

THE OUTFIT allows players the option to choose from three playable squad leader personalities, each with their own specific skills and abilities. With their squad leaders, players will guide two squads of battle-forged soldiers on missions ranging from reconnaissance-and-rescue to search-and-destroy across immensely destructible battlefields. Players can switch between squads at any time and can strategically use squads separately, in tandem or as one super-unit. By engaging in combat with the enemy, players will earn action points that can be used to upgrade their arsenal, order in tanks and many other vehicles, build machinegun nests and anti-tank emplacements or call for air or artillery strikes.

Bethesda Softworks and 2K Games, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. announced that THE ELDER SCROLLS IV: OBLIVION will be available on the Xbox 360. OBLIVION, the long awaited fourth installment in the award-winning ELDER SCROLLS series, will make its public debut at E3.

"OBLIVION is by far one of the most graphically captivating games ever made, but the technology powering this game is doing so much more than just making it look good," said Todd Howard, exec producer for OBLIVION. "The Xbox 360 gives us the freedom to build a game that is not only visually unsurpassed, but also completely customizable to the player's desire. Technology has finally caught up to our vision of creating a fully immersive fantasy world that looks as amazing as it is fun to play."

Played from a first or third person perspective, OBLIVION opens with the mysterious death of the Emperor of Tamriel, tasking the gamer with finding the lost heir to the throne while combating the demons loosed from the gates of Oblivion, or hell. Pioneering technology makes Oblivion's combat more bloody and visceral, as the gamer navigates his way through lifelike towns, dungeons, and the most realistic forests ever created. OBLIVION has already received a wealth of pre-launch attention, and has been recognized as one of this year's most highly anticipated games.

THE ELDER SCROLLS IV: OBLIVION has not yet been rated by the ESRB and is slated to ship for PC and Xbox 360 in winter 2005. For more information on Oblivion and the Elder Scrolls series, please visit the official website at www.elderscrolls.com.

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