SAN FRANCISCO - Microsoft on Friday releases its Xbox One game console, taking on Sony's PlayStation 4 in a battle for the hearts and minds of Internet-era home entertainment.
Sony last week unleashed its new champion in the long-running console war, getting a slight jump on Microsoft heading into the prime holiday shopping season.
The Xbox One, successor to the Xbox 360, the top-selling console in North America, will debut at a price of US$500 (S$621.84) while Sony's PS4 is priced at US$400.
Sony said it sold more than a million PS4 consoles in the 24 hours after its release on November 15, but the debut was marred by complaints by a small percentage of buyers of units malfunctioning.
Analysts said that it remained to be seen which of the new-generation consoles will prove more popular, noting that the lower price plays in favour of the PS4.
"If history has anything to say about it, core gamers tend to favour Sony," said Brian Blau, research director at analyst firm Gartner.
"There is nothing I've seen to say that one platform is going to have an advantage over the other."
Both consoles boast upgrades which provide richer graphics and more immersive game play than their predecessors. Social features of online play have also been enhanced, along with the ability to share with friends.
Microsoft touts the Xbox One console as a home entertainment hub that goes far beyond games.
The beefed-up hardware allows for instant switching between games, television, and Internet browsing. Microsoft-owned Skype was integrated for online group video calls.