The global launch of Microsoft's the Xbox One game console took place early this morning.
Microsoft is aiming to upstage rival Sony with a console that goes well beyond gaming and helps transform media viewing, a long-cherished but elusive goal.
The software giant is betting its first new video game console in eight years will help sustain its position as a dominant player in gaming hardware.
It also hopes to build a high-margin, rapid-growth business that plays a bigger role in how people watch television and consume media content.
The console has received early positive reviews for its performance, interface and exclusive launch games.
Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing and strategy officer for Xbox, said pre-orders for Xbox One were running at twice the rate of 2005's Xbox 360 but declined to elaborate.
He added that the company is anticipating an adequate supply to meet demand.
Revenue from Xbox games and consoles, including the blockbuster "Halo" game franchise, yielded 10% of total Microsoft sales in the last fiscal year. A successful launch could give a much-needed lift to the software titan, which is trying to become a significant player in hardware.
Microsoft wants to become a "devices and services" giant as it struggles to find the right formula and hire a new chief executive to take on Google, Apple and Amazon.com in a mobile-computing era.
Japan's Sony, which launched its new PlayStation 4 gaming console last week, and Nintendo, which has struggled with slow sales of its next-generation Wii U console, have also crammed media apps and content onto their machines, but analysts say Microsoft is taking it a step further.
The Xbox One, which will launch in 13 markets worldwide including Ireland, will cater to its loyal gamer fan base with exclusive titles like "Forza Motorsport 5" and "Ryse: Son of Rome." Beyond that ,the company hopes the device crosses over to the mainstream and becomes a family entertainment centre.
To entice TV viewers and simplify their viewing experience, the new device comes with features like voice control via its Kinect input device - ostensibly in place of a remote - and the ability to integrate it with cable boxes.
As with the PlayStation and Nintendo's Wii U, the Xbox One comes loaded with Netflix and other popular media apps. But Microsoft has started its own studio to produce exclusive video content, meaning the new device could become a gateway to much more than games.
To bolster its entertainment offerings, Microsoft launched its Xbox Music app, a digital music service that vies with Apple's iTunes, last year.
Microsoft is battling Sony, which sold 1 million of its PlayStation 4s within the first 24 hour of its November 15 release in the US and Canada, and is currently sold out in many retail stores and online.