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Microsoft Xbox sales strong over holidays

Liz Miller of Los Angeles plays Kinect for Star Wars at the Microsoft XBOX 360 booth at E3 in Los Angeles
Liz Miller of Los Angeles plays Kinect for Star Wars at the Microsoft XBOX 360 booth at E3 in Los Angeles

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp said on Monday sales of its revolutionary Kinect sensing device for the Xbox game console have hit more than 18 million just over a year since launch.

Popularity of the device has helped Microsoft Xbox recently outsell Nintendo's Wii and Sony's PlayStation in the United States game console market.

One of Microsoft's undoubted successes in consumer electronics, the Kinect allows users to play games and manipulate their televisions solely through gestures and voice commands. It was launched in November 2010.

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, delivering the opening keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, said there are now more than 66 million Xbox units in use and more than 40 million subscribers to its Xbox Live service, which offers more real-time, interactive entertainment.

Microsoft's last tally for Xbox and Kinect sales, from about six weeks ago, were about 59 million and 11 million, respectively, suggesting Microsoft sold about 7 million Xbox and Kinect units over the crucial holiday shopping season.

That is slightly better than Sony, which said earlier on Monday that it sold 6.5 million game machines over the holiday season, including PlayStations and its new hand-held device.

Ballmer added that on February 1 Microsoft would unveil some Kinect functions for Windows users -- suggesting hands-free commands for PCs -- but did not give any details.

Microsoft said last month its CEO would not deliver the CES keynote after this year, as Ballmer and his predecessor Bill Gates have done for the last 14 years.

Asked what to expect in the future from Microsoft, Ballmer said "Windows, Windows, Windows," referring to the release of the latest version of its flagship operating system, which is expected later this year. Microsoft has not said exactly when it will be available.

Ballmer also announced a new partnership with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, that will bring Fox News, Wall Street Journal and other content to Xbox Live subscribers some time this year.

(Reporting By Bill Rigby; Editing by Vinu Pilakkott and Muralikumar Anantharaman)