October 10, 2001 4:25 PM PDT

Microsoft backtracks on Xbox hard drive

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After quietly revealing earlier this year that it was boosting the capacity of the hard drive on its upcoming Xbox video game console from 8GB to 10GB, Microsoft has even more quietly reverted to the original figure.

A Microsoft representative confirmed Wednesday that the console will ship next month with an 8GB hard drive but would not explain the change other than to say it was unrelated to manufacturing issues.

"For a number of reasons it became more practical to include an 8GB" hard drive, the representative said.

The Xbox is the first game console to come with a built-in hard drive, which will be used to save games in progress and store software updates and other data. Sony plans to release an add-on hard drive for its PlayStation 2 console next year.

Gartner analyst P.J. McNealy said the only motive he could imagine for slimming down the Xbox hard drive would be to shave a few pennies off the heavily subsidized cost of producing the console.

"Maybe Fry's has a sale" on 8GB drives, he quipped.

The Xbox will arrive in North American stores Nov. 15 with an unspecified number of units. Microsoft last month pushed back the launch date by one week and retreated from earlier pledges to ship 600,000 to 800,000 units at launch.

The company's buildup to the Xbox launch has also been marred by reports of manufacturing and design problems that may have hampered production.


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