Xbox One console release date set by Microsoft

Xbox One console
Image caption The Xbox One faced a frosty reception when it was first announced

Microsoft will launch the Xbox One, its latest games console, on 22 November.

It will initially be available in 13 countries - UK, US, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

Remaining markets will follow in early 2014, the company confirmed.

The timing of the launch will mean it beats close rival Sony's PlayStation 4 to the shelves in much of the world by one week.

The exception is North America, where Sony's console will be available on 15 November.

The releases set up the first new console war since 2006, the last time both firms had fresh gaming machines on the market.

Xbox's marketing vice-president, Yusuf Mehdi, announced the firm's rollout plans in a statement.

"The culmination of many years of listening to you, our fans, developing innovative technology, and partnering with the best game and entertainment partners in the industry has brought us to this point," he said.

"There is still a lot more work to do, but the teams are making excellent progress and are focused on launch."

He confirmed that the console recently entered full production in preparation for the launch. Pre-orders had sold out faster than any of the company's previous gaming products, Mr Mehdi said.

He also confirmed that the console's CPU had been upgraded by around 10% - from 1.6Ghz to 1.75Ghz.

Rocky road

It has been an uneasy few months for Microsoft in the run-up to this major launch.

In July, the company lost its head of interactive entertainment, Don Mattrick, to social gaming company Zynga.

He left at a time when Microsoft was still bruised by a damaging performance at E3, the biggest gaming event in the calendar.

Image caption Gamers had reacted angrily to Microsoft's policies

The company had announced that the Xbox One would be more expensive than the PlayStation 4, and controversy surrounded various decisions regarding the firm's policy on playing pre-owned games on the system.

Microsoft's console will retail for £429 in the UK, while Sony's will be priced at £349.

In a dramatic U-turn a week later, Microsoft said it would drop heavily criticised restrictions on the console, was seen as a somewhat embarrassing exercise in damage limitation.

But that will all ultimately be forgotten by gamers once the consoles go on sale, and the Xbox One's games line-up looks to set it up in good shape for the crucial first Christmas.

In particular, big-name exclusive titles and additional content on best-sellers such as EA's Fifa football series are likely to drive sales.

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