How Microsoft planned Xbox 2 for Christmas 2004

Internal schedules at Microsoft as recently as last November called for the Xbox 2 to be launched in time for Christmas 2004, sources close to the company have revealed - and the firm is still thought to be considering a launch by mid-2005.

Sources at a number of key Xbox developers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have confirmed that when the company originally revealed the outline specification for Xbox 2 late last year, the company surprised its partners by suggesting that the new hardware would be in shops for Christmas 2004.

The system has since slipped from that schedule - which also called for an unveiling of the specification at GDC, at the high-profile press conference which the company eventually used for the launch of the XNA development platform - but Microsoft apparently still has hopes to get the new console out in mid-2005, ahead of the Christmas 2005 release anticipated by most commentators.

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