Microsoft's Xbox 360 will go on sale across North America at midnight tonight and in Europe on 2 December, but doubts remain over whether many UK gamers will be able to take delivery of the console before Christmas.
Amazon, which has been taking pre-orders, has a warning on its website stating: "Due to limited supply from Microsoft, we are unable to guarantee delivery of some Xbox 360 pre-orders for Christmas.
"Please also note that all pre-orders made on or after 2 November will have expected delivery dates in 2006. We are working with Microsoft to ensure that the consoles are delivered as soon as they become available."
Tim Smith, reviews editor on ComputerActive magazine, said: "This is going to be a bit like the iPod launch. It is also not yet clear which games will be available as many are still in final development.
"At least Microsoft has clarified that about 750 games will be backwards compatible, which is impressive."
But the superior specification looks set to ignite sales regardless of demand. "It is an impressive machine, especially if you buy the deluxe version with a hard disk and you have a hard disk-ready display," said Smith.
Amazon is selling the basic Xbox 360 for £209.99. The deluxe version, which includes a hard disk and wireless controller, costs £279.99.
Microsoft is predicting sales of three million Xbox 360s within the first three months to add to the 22 million Xbox sales worldwide.
Sony is planning to release its Playstation 3 in the second quarter of 2006. Sony dwarfs Microsoft with 80 million console users, but some analysts believe it may take a year for Sony to have an attractive range of games for its latest console.
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