As the Xbox 360 finally goes on sale across North America, Microsoft chairman and co-founder Bill Gates has reaffirmed Microsoft's continuing commitment to console gaming.
Speaking in an interview with Reuters, Gates said this is just the beginning of a new era - and that even if the 360 doesn't take the market lead this time round, MS will continue to develop console hardware.
"We'll play again. We learned a lot in the first round," Gates said.
"We've got a chance not just to have higher market share, but also to grow the size of this market substantially."
Gates went on to say that he was confident the Xbox 360 was a better machine than its rivals, telling Reuters: "In terms of how we've balanced technology in the machine, we feel certain we've done a better job than Sony."
"You won't really know that until a year from now, when people are talking about how the games on our machines compared to the games on Sony's machines."
Gates declined to comment on which software title will prove to be the Xbox 360's 'killer app', just as Halo was for the original Xbox: "I wouldn't have picked right last time if you had asked me that question, so I won't pick this time," he stated.
The Xbox 360 officially launched in North America at midnight last night, with stores across the country opening their doors specially for the occasion and many shoppers queueing around the block.
One man went to even greater extremes - holding up an Electronics Boutique store in Stafford, Virginia at gunpoint and making off with two Xbox 360s. No one was harmed during the incident and the thief was apprehended shortly afterwards.
The console is already selling well on auction site eBay - hard drive bundled machines, which retail for USD 399.99 in the shops, were going for upwards of USD 800 at the time of writing.
Microsoft celebrated the launch with a two-day party in the Mojave Desert, titled "Zero Hour". The invite-only event gave attendees the chance to try out games from the Xbox 360 launch line-up as well as titles due out next year.
The Xbox 360 will launch in Europe next, on December 2. The console will then hit Japan on December 10.