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Microsoft addresses Japan Xbox gripes

After complaints about scratched discs in its game console, the company offers to repair or replace any defective products. "We do not consider this a recall," Microsoft says.

Microsoft stepped up its efforts Thursday to deal with an increasing number of customer complaints in Japan about scratched discs in its Xbox video game machine, offering to repair or replace any defective products.

Microsoft Japan said earlier this week it would replace any consoles determined to be defective.

On Thursday the company said it would unconditionally replace all hardware and any damaged software because it found some scratches on discs and could not explain why.

"We do not consider this a recall," Microsoft spokeswoman Midori Takahashi said, adding that the scratches found on the DVD edges did not interfere with game playing.

The software giant launched the Xbox in Japan two weeks ago, hoping to convince Japan's notoriously fickle gaming public and software creators that its machine could rival those of Sony and Nintendo on their home turf.

The scratches, which Microsoft says were most likely caused by DVD discs spinning in the console, improper placement on loading trays or by the sliding tray itself, were also reported in the United States after the Xbox was launched in mid-November.

Highlighting the importance of the Japanese market, Microsoft has made special efforts to cater to that market with a specially designed, smaller controller and a limited edition of 50,000 translucent Xbox consoles available only in Japan.

The spokeswoman said Microsoft had not determined the cost of repairing or replacing any consoles or discs.

Although Microsoft has not published official figures, sources said it was able to ship about 125,000 Xbox consoles in the first three days after it went on sale on February 22.

In March 2000, just after Sony launched the PlayStation 2, the successor of its best-selling PlayStation machine, it suffered a setback when a glitch in software memory cards disabled the playback of DVD videos.

Story Copyright © 2002 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.