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Microsoft will launch online gaming services for its Xbox console in the US within the next six months, presumably around May.

The Japanese market, scheduled to get Xbox by late February, will get their broadband gaming services around August - or within six months of its arrival there. Microsoft and NTT communications partnered in March to provide the broadband gaming services.

The announcement comes just a couple of days after Sony said it was getting into bed with a division of NTT to provide the same thing for its Japanese console users by April.

Sony plans to launch similar online options in the European and US markets at an unspecified date next year. This follows its May announcement that it has tied up with Telewest to provide broadband gaming to PS2 users in Europe, which is currently undergoing testing.

Microsoft made no mention about European online gaming, according to Reuters.

Microsoft confirmed yesterday that it is on track to hit the scheduled 22 February console launch date in Japan. The Xbox is due to hit European shelves on 14 March. ®

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