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CES: Gates hails Xbox success in keynote, stays quiet on Xbox 2

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates had nothing to say on the topic of Xbox 2 in his pre-CES keynote in Las Vegas last night, with videogames largely absent from the agenda apart from praise for the success of Xbox in 2004.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates had nothing to say on the topic of Xbox 2 in his pre-CES keynote in Las Vegas last night, with videogames largely absent from the agenda apart from praise for the success of Xbox in 2004.

Many in the industry had hoped that Gates would use CES as a platform to announce Microsoft's next-generation console, which is widely expected to launch before the end of this year, well ahead of rival systems from Sony and Nintendo.

However, the focus of the pre-show keynote was largely on Microsoft's other media ventures, with Gates discussing the company's efforts in the movie, music, photo and communications sectors.

Videogames were relegated to a short section of the speech where Gates praised the success of the Xbox in the run up to Christmas, claiming a 40 per cent hardware market share for November and December and projecting worldwide sales of 20 million units by July of this year.

He specifically praised Bungie's Halo 2, which has sold 6.3 million units since its launch in November - more than the first game in the series has sold to date - and Big Blue Box' Fable, which has sold well over a million units.

The debut of Xbox 2 is now expected to take place either at the Game Developers Conference in March, or at the E3 expo in Los Angeles in May. Work on most of the key hardware components for the system is believed to be near completion, although developers are still working on prototype kits based on Apple PowerMac systems.

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Rob Fahey avatar
Rob Fahey: Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.