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Microsoft Ships 8 Million Kinect Devices, to Add Hulu

Microsoft Corp. has shipped more than 8 million Kinect sensors for its Xbox device, topping the company’s forecasts, and now has 30 million users for the related Xbox Live online service.

The company also plans to add the Hulu Plus online-television service to Xbox Live and Kinect in the U.S. this spring. Windows Phone 7 software, meanwhile, will be available for Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. in the first half, Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Microsoft is relying on Kinect and Xbox Live to squeeze more profit from its gaming division and extend the product life of the Xbox console. Kinect lets players control games through the movement of their bodies -- an approach that’s also been embraced by rivals Nintendo Co. and Sony Corp.

“With Kinect, you are the controller -- and there’s nothing else like it in the world,” said Ballmer, 54. “Xbox 360, Xbox Live and Kinect have made 2010 the biggest year in Xbox history.”

Microsoft has sold virtually all of the 8 million Kinects that were shipped, the company said yesterday.

Sony said in November it has shipped 4.1 million Move motion controllers to retailers.

Apple, Google TV

Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, said in an interview this week that the vast majority of those have been purchased by consumers and many stores are sold out. He declined to provide an updated number for shipments.

The Xbox’s television, sports and movie features also are becoming more critical amid competition from Apple Inc.’s Apple TV and Google Inc.’s Google TV. Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, has sold more than 50 million Xbox 360 consoles, which debuted in November 2005.

In the mobile-phone market, Microsoft is trying to build support for its new Windows Phone 7 software, which came out last year. Verizon and Sprint versions of Windows Phone 7 handsets weren’t available because those companies’ networks use CDMA technology, which Microsoft opted not to support in the first version of the underlying software. Ballmer didn’t specify when the two companies would start selling phones with the operating system.

Earlier yesterday, Microsoft said the next version of its Windows personal-computer operating system will run on ARM Holdings Plc’s chip technology for the first time, marking a deeper push into the market for tablet computers. At a press conference at the show, Microsoft showed the upcoming Windows running on ARM-based chips made by Nvidia Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc.

Microsoft rose 82 cents to $28.82 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares declined 8.4 percent last year.

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