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British gamers flocked to the stores in the early hours of the morning, hoping to score one of the first Xbox 360 game consoles on the market, according to this BBC news report.

The scene – mad gamers who normally don’t see the light of 5 a.m. – scrambling into lines (or in this case “queues”), with high hopes of taking home the first next-generation game console. The reason for the madness, outside of the normal gamer geek reaction, is simple: this system, along with Sony’s Playstation 3 slated for launch next year, is simply the most powerful home entertainment device yet made. Along with running the most graphically and sonically intense video games to date, the device will connect to the Internet, play CDs and DVDs, and sync with certain handhelds.

The predicted demand likely has Bill Gates smiling – despite the losses his company takes each time a piece of hardware flies off the shelves. (In the game industry, companies lose money on hardware, but make up the difference on software and online services.)

These new devices are uber-powerful home entertainment systems, which will – if not now, then very soon – replace the stereo and DVD player in the living room. Heck, it’s likely that the Microsoft Media Center software (which in part powers the 360) will enable all types of content sharing between PCs and game devices.

Once the PC, game machine/entertainment device, and handheld begin seamlessly working together – Gates’ dream of owning the living room will be within his reach.

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