Microsoft promises Natal before Yule

Microsoft has officially confirmed that it will be releasing its much-hyped Project Natal motion-sensitive controller technology as an add-on to the Xbox 360 console by the end of this year.

The software giant had showcased the technology, which allows gamers to use their bodies and gestures as controllers, in the E3 trade expo last year.

The Xbox news was the focal point of Ballmer's limp keynote speech at the opening of Consumers Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

The president of the company’s entertainment and devices division, Robbie Bach hailed Project Natal as one of the most crucial developments in the gaming domain this year, as it offers an "entirely new but completely natural way" to enjoy gaming.

Extolling the technology, he said "We’re proud of the advances we’ve made that allow players to immerse themselves in games that feel real. But now we want to create an experience that’s more simple, more intuitive."

Motion sensor technology is the next big thing in console gaming, thanks largely to the success of Nintendo's family-friendly Wii, as opposed to the geekier XBox or Playstation machines.