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Microsoft cuts number of countries that will have Xbox One by Christmas

Some European gamers to get coal in their stockings

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Microsoft has said it won’t be able to meet its initial goal of launching the Xbox One in 21 countries before Christmas, and some European buyers won’t see the console until 2014 at the earliest.

At the console's coming-out party at the E3 conference this year, Microsoft said it was planning to get the console out in 21 countries worldwide in time for the traditional Christmas sales period. This has now been cut to just 13, but those who preordered the console will get a free game to make up for the disappointment.

"While we wish we could launch Xbox One simultaneously in these markets, there are many factors that determine the timing of specific market launches," said the Xbox leadership team in a blog post.

"This includes work to localize the Xbox One dash, incorporate additional voice and languages, and build partnerships to bring apps and meaningful local content to each country. We understand this will be disappointing news for our fans in the impacted countries, and we are doing everything we can to bring Xbox One to you as soon as possible next year."

The Xbox One will now be released in November in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and New Zealand.

Gamers in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland will have to wait until 2014, although Redmond says the console will be out in those countries "as soon as possible."

It's only the latest reversal for Microsoft's controversial new gaming console. Earlier, the company was forced to drop plans for an always-on internet requirement after an outcry from gamers (although some claimed to like the DRM system).

Microsoft has also changed the specs of the Xbox One slightly, beefing up its graphics processing, and it has reversed its policy on the console's Kinect motion sensor. Previously, the sensor – which is so precise that Microsoft claims it can measure your heartbeat – had to be attached to the console. Redmond has now backed down from this and will allow Kinect to be turned off.

Microsoft is already at a $100 price disadvantage to Sony's PS4 and has said it will be charging for most of the new features promised with the forthcoming console, including recording in-game action and using Microsoft's engine to find suitable playing partners online.

Xbox One has had a rocky road thus far, and Wednesday's announcement will hurt its support among gamers in Europe. That support can no doubt be won back, but Redmond does seem to be making a rod for its own back with this launch. ®

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