updated 5/17/2005 12:28:34 AM ET 2005-05-17T04:28:34

Microsoft on Monday unveiled the high-profile games it planned for the launch of its new Xbox 360 console and revealed it would not abandon its existing Xbox platform for the foreseeable future.

Microsoft, which hopes to overtake Sony as the number one console maker in the next generation of machines, made itself popular with current players of its Xbox titles when it announced that the 360 would be compatible with older version games, as well as the high-definition ones being produced especially for the 360.

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There had been widespread speculation that Microsoft would make a clean break with its first attempt at a games console by winding down production of the original Xbox and making the new one incompatible with older games.

But Robbie Bach, head of its Home and Entertainment division, said: "We are absolutely committed to shipping today's Xbox well into 2006 — there will be 200 new games for it this year and we continue to encourage our publishing partners to develop games for 2006."

Sony is still selling its original PlayStation several years after introducing the PlayStation 2. Mr Bach said the Xbox would appeal to a slightly different audience as enthusiasts moved on to the 360.

Microsoft gave no details on price, date of release or the number of units it expected to ship this year, but Mr. Bach said it would be shipping in North America, Europe and Japan during the Christmas holiday season — a first for all three territories to be shipping a new console in the same holiday season.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs expect Microsoft to ship 2 million to 3 million 360s by the end of the year, giving it a significant time-to-market advantage over Sony, whose PS3 is not expected to appear until several months later in 2006.

At an event on the eve of the E3 video games trade show in Los Angeles, Microsoft unveiled many of the titles that would feature on the Xbox 360 at launch. A key capture was Square Enix's Final Fantasy XI, the latest in a popular series.

"We are very confident that the Xbox 360 will be the most powerful platform in the next generation," said Mr Bach.

"We are way ahead in software and services, where Sony hasn't even begun to invest yet."

© The Financial Times Ltd 2010. "FT" and "Financial Times" are trademarks of the Financial Times.

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