The launch of video game console Xbox in Japan will be delayed from November to Feb. 22, Microsoft Co., the Japanese unit of Microsoft Corp. of the United States, announced Monday.

Microsoft had originally planned to simultaneously launch Xbox in Japan and United States, where the product is now set to be released on Nov. 8.

The Japanese unit said that Microsoft Corp. will first focus on Christmas sales campaigns in the U.S. to ensure initial success of the firm’s first full-fledged hardware product.

“It hurts to miss the Christmas sales season (in Japan), but it won’t affect much in the long run,” said Hirohisa Ohura, managing director at Microsoft Co.

But the company denied speculation that a design flaw in the motherboard supplied by Intel Corp. has hindered manufacture of the machine.

Xbox boasts Intel’s 733 megahertz central processing unit and an ultrapowerful three-dimensional graphic chip of 233 MHZ that Microsoft jointly developed with Nvidia Corp., based in California.

Xbox is Microsoft’s strategic product to battle Sony Corp.’s PlayStation2, which Sony hopes will become a household multimedia terminal.

Microsoft Co. also announced that two new major Japanese software makers — Atlus Co. and FromSoftware Inc. — are now developing games for Xbox.

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