Games Lead Microsoft's Holiday Lineup

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Getting ready for the 2000 holiday selling season, Microsoft introduced last week a slew of products in most of the company's hardware and software consumer product lines.

PC gaming will play a prominent role in Microsoft's holiday plans with a new PC game application called Sidewinder Game Voice shipping this fall, along with 16 new PC game titles. On the hardware side the company has two new mice and upgraded keyboards set to ship in the fall.

In addition, Microsoft last week promised that Windows Millennium, the company's next consumer operating system, will ship by late summer.

The SideWinder Game Voice software, shipping this fall with a $50 estimated street price, comes with a microphone headset and an eight-button control unit that will allow a player to chat with up to 64 other players during an online game such as Everquest or Age of Empires. The controller allows the player to speak with an individual, team or the entire group that is playing.

The software also allows the player to use voice commands to control any game that uses key commands to control play. The key commands are automatically recognized by the software and then enacted when the person speaks. For example, if "control S" saves the game, the person would say "save game" and it would be done.

The upcoming PC game line will be led by Combat Flight Simulator 2: WWII Pacific Theater, Age of Empires 2 (expansion set) and Motocross Madness 2. All will ship in the third or fourth quarter with estimated street prices of about $50.

Combat Flight Simulator adds new aircraft for the player to fly, enhanced visuals and full multiplayer support. The Age of Empires upgrade features five new civilizations, four new historically based campaigns, and chat commands to order allied units to perform different tasks. New additions to Motocross include pro-circuit and "enduro" racing, new graphics and landscapes, and racetracks designed by pro rider Stephane Roncada.

Microsoft will add the IntelliMouse Optical and IntelliMouse Explorer to its pointing device line. Both mice feature trackball control that allows the user to move a PC's cursor without having to shift the mouse itself.

The trackball movements are relayed to the PC via an optical technology instead of the traditional rollers found in standard mice. Each has several programmable buttons and a scroll control. The Optical and Explorer will ship this fall with respective estimated street prices of $40 and $60.


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