There's two interesting stories that have emerged over the last 24 hours, and they are all very strong hints at what Microsoft is brewing, and more importantly, how much of it they're brewing. For months we've been hearing rumors on Microsoft's console, called the X-Box, but Microsoft has never commented on it directly. Well, yesterday the Wall Street Journal reports Microsoft may pour billions of dollars into the project over four years on development and promotion. Yes, that's right, billions of dollars. Microsoft seems poised to flex a muscle that would make Sony green with envy. The new console will run standard PC games, according to the report, and will include a hard drive and a DVD drive. Most of this comes as no surprise, as the system is also very likely to have some sort of high bandwidth modem to have an online presence as well. It's hardly been a secret that they're aiming to compete directly with Sony's Playstation 2. Most of the details of the X-Box have been leaked..
..but what we didn't know til now is that Microsoft looks to also be going after another video game market, the handheld market. Yes, Microsoft thinks they can do what SNK, Bandai, Tiger, Sega, and Atari have tried to do, and that's take a large piece of the market away from Nintendo. This to me shows how intent they are to enter the market. Sony showed that anyone with the right marketing and products (and budget) can jump into the console fray, but no one has been able to put a real dent in the handhold market because of the extensive library of games available for Nintendo's Game Boy. Now, just after Nintendo has announced their next-generation portable system, currently known as the Game Boy Advance, the rumors say that their top-secret behind closed doors new system, will be even more advanced. Rumors say that it will include a 3D graphics chip and processor, possibly coming from Toshiba, and that the system will be compatible with Direct X, which would make it very easy to program for and also easy to port games from PC. There's also rumors that it will be compatible with the X-Box, and possibly have some PC connectivity. The bad news for Microsoft is that the system might very well cost around $300, which will make it a very hard sell. Keep an eye out for this one, because if there's anyone in the world that can turn this industry upside down, it's Microsoft.