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Xbox Live arrives in Italy.

Firmly in second place, behind Sony's PlayStation 2, Xbox sales make Microsoft managers happy.

Confident that broadband will spread like wildfire on our peninsula, at the headquarters of Microsoft's Segrate, Claudia Bonatti (Xbox marketing director), Alessandro Paolucci (Xbox product manager) and Michael Cassius (Xbox EMEA platform director) presented at Italian press the Live solution.

The Microsoft console was designed from the outset for this step (Live, ed), which in Italy will arrive as in four other European countries with a delay of four months (Belgium, Holland, Spain, Sweden while France, Germany and UK in they have enjoyed since November 30, 2002) compared to North America, where it is enjoying quite a success (250,000 kits sold with user satisfaction indexes close to 90%): an integrated 8 GB hard disk as well as the necessary Ethernet socket.

To transform an Xbox as we know it now into Xbox Live from March 14 you can buy the Xbox Live Starter Kit package, be autonomously equipped with a compatible broadband connection, have a credit card and be willing to provide the number to the only one Microsoft server designed for this purpose, called "the Fort Knox of security" (perhaps to try to make people forget the unpleasant past adventures, in terms of sensitive data escaped from Microsoft servers).

The coster kit 60 euros (in the USA it costs 50 dollars, in Canada 80) and has a duration of twelve months, includes Xbox Communicator (headset and microphone tied to the game pad by a cable) and two special versions of the MotoGP and Whacked games! adapted for Xbox Live.

Five titles are ready immediately (Unreal Championship, MechAssault, Whacked !, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon and MotoGP) which will become fifty within the current year (including titles such as Halo 2, CounterStrike, StarWars: Galaxies and Project Gotham Racing 2).

With this kit you have access to various (basic) functions such as online play between friends or strangers residing all over the world or in your own geographical area, personalized rankings / statistics and the download function (new game levels or other). For extra services you will have to pay.With the Xbox Communicator you can talk to other players also masking the voice with funny digital effects in real time.

Microsoft by broadband means connections at least xDSL (from the ISDN down to Xbox Live cannot work), if asynchronous the ideal would be 512 kbps downstream and 128 kbps upstream but 128 kbps synchronously acceptable.

Having said that and thinking about the Italian broadband situation we have to register that Microsoft (while working on it) has not yet made any agreements with national or local ISPs, what is known that the connection must be on the Ethernet port given the specificities of the console and unfortunately any satellite ISPs are not working with Xbox Live as well as existing wireless solutions.

For the future, Microsoft is thinking of payment methods other than credit cards such as prepaid cards or other such, which will certainly facilitate the most suspicious but above all minors who, otherwise, must ask parents to pay for their basic games or premiums accessible from Xbox.

The ambitions are many but at Microsoft Italy they initially aim at customer satisfaction rather than large numbers.