Updated versions of the development hardware for Microsoft's Xbox 360 console have begun shipping to studios at last, replacing the Apple PowerMac G5 based systems which were used to demonstrate games at E3 in May.
That's according to multiple sources working on high profile titles for the forthcoming console, which is expected to launch in the fourth calendar quarter - meaning that developers have as little as three to four months to complete games aiming for the launch.
The Beta kits - the PowerMac based systems were designated Alpha kits - have a processor and graphics chipset configuration much closer to the final hardware that will appear in Xbox 360.
Prior to E3, developers reported that a very small number of these more advanced kits had been manufactured, but it's only in recent weeks that they have begun shipping to Microsoft's development partners on a wide scale.
Microsoft received some criticism after E3 for showcasing its titles on hardware which, it claimed, only represented 25 to 30 per cent of the power of the final Xbox 360 - while Sony had more advanced development kits for the PS3, despite being at least six months further from launch.
However, it would appear that this situation has now been rectified - although Microsoft's Beta kits still aren't up to full speed, according to developers who spoke to GamesIndustry.biz this morning, telling us that full speed "Final" development kits probably aren't expected to ship for another few months.