Xbox tools are delayed

Games makers fail to get crucial development kit on time, but Microsoft says console still on track

Key developer tools for Microsoft's Xbox games console have been delayed, adding to concerns about the platform's launch plans.

The beta version of Xbox's software development kit -- used to tailor games for a specific hardware platform -- was originally to be in developers' hands in March, but developers say the kit hasn't shown up, according to a report in the Financial Times. Microsoft admitted the kit had been delayed, but did not give an explanation.

The development kit is crucial to Microsoft's plans to have a substantial number of games readily available for Xbox when it launches in Japan and the US this autumn and in Europe in the spring of next year. Microsoft has committed to having 12 to 15 Xbox games on the shelves at launch, with another wave of games to follow by Christmas.

At the recent Tokyo Games Show the US software giant found it necessary to deny rumours about delays, affirming the console will launch on time.

Xbox's main competitor will be Sony's PlayStation2, which will have a year's headstart on Microsoft. However, one of Xbox's aces is said to be the ease of use of its software development kit, compared particularly to that of PlayStation2.

Gamespot UK has a channel devoted to the latest Xbox news, reviews and previews. Check it out here.

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