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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Did Bill Gates Miss an Opportunity When He Made Xbox Need a Special Attachment to Play DVDs?

15 Nov, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Today's the big day in gaming circles, with Microsoft's much-ballyhooed Xbox game console scheduled to go on sale -- just a few days before Nintendo's rivalGameCube.

The wire services just released a photo of a buoyant Bill Gates playing a game on the new system in a New York City toy store. Accompanying the photo is a quote from Gates: "The future of gaming starts today, and it starts with Xbox."

Hype and fluff is to be expected, but Gates isn't altogether incorrect. Actually, the future of gaming began last year when Sony began sellingPlayStation 2, a revolutionary console that also plays DVDs and thus became the first game console to embrace the concept of convergence.

Convergence -- my interpretation, at least -- is the belief that one day all home entertainment needs will "converge" in one multi-faceted piece of hardwarethat will let you listen to music, play movies, play video games and potentially download, store, display and/or stream whatever programming or content you like.

That's been a longtime dream of mine, to have one of these boxes on top of my TV that can do it all -- to forever strike from my memory that horrible day in 1987 when I brought home a CD player and discovered I didn't have enough outlets to hook it up to my stereo, which was already overburdened by aturntable, a cassette deck and an eight-track (which ultimately was tossed).

Today, many of us are facing a similar dilemma, particularly since our TVsare invariably hooked up to a sound system that must double as our music center. Thank God DVD players can play CDs -- that's one less box in the stack.

But convergence is about a lot more than space. It's about convenience, aboutwatching a movie, then getting a yen to hear a CD, then wanting to play a fewrounds of a hot new game. Having an all-in-one set-top box gives consumers the opportunity to tinker around with more media -- and when opportunity knocks, bigger sales loom just beyond the doorway.

That said, I believe Gates missed an opportunity. The Xbox will play DVDs, but you need a special attachment. Why? If Microsoft truly wants to be on the cutting edge, it should have produced the Xbox so it would play DVDs rightout of the box.

As for Nintendo's GameCube, which has no DVD capabilities (it uses three-inch discs), forget it. Convergence is certainly the buzz, and I'll go out on the line and predict that he who can play the most toys wins.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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