(AP, New York) Caryn Bailey, a 32-year-old blogger and mother of two, is impressed with Microsoft’s new Kinect game-control system. But she already owns the Wii from rival Nintendo, and she’s not ready to shell out hundreds of dollars to switch.

That’s the challenge Microsoft Corp. faces as it begins selling the long-awaited system on Thursday ahead of the lucrative holiday season. To succeed, Kinect will need to exude the kind of iPad-like magic that defies frugality and gets people spending to experience something new, even as they cut back elsewhere in the uncertain economy.

(AP, New York) Caryn Bailey, a 32-year-old blogger and mother of two, is impressed with Microsoft’s new Kinect game-control system. But she already owns the Wii from rival Nintendo, and she’s not ready to shell out hundreds of dollars to switch.

That’s the challenge Microsoft Corp. faces as it begins selling the long-awaited system on Thursday ahead of the lucrative holiday season. To succeed, Kinect will need to exude the kind of iPad-like magic that defies frugality and gets people spending to experience something new, even as they cut back elsewhere in the uncertain economy.

By all accounts, Kinect is loads of fun. The black, rectangular device, used in conjunction with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console, goes just below your TV screen and senses all the activity in the living room. Using a 3-D camera, depth sensors and voice-recognition software, it recognizes your face, voice and gestures as you move around and talk, without requiring you to hold a controller or wear a headset. Kinect removes the last barrier between you and the screen: the remote.

With Kinect, your on-screen character faithfully mimics your movements. Kinect also determines where you are in the room and with whom, and it can register objects so you can scan in your skateboard and “ride” a digital version on screen.

It’ll have you flailing your arms to steer on-screen cars using an invisible steering wheel. It’ll have you shaking your bum as you practice on-screen dance moves. It will even take a photo of you doing these things so you can post it on Facebook for everyone’s amusement.

Microsoft, which launched the original Xbox in 2001, won’t disclose how much it is spending on convincing people that Kinect is a must-have item for the holidays.

For Microsoft, however, games are an increasingly lucrative business. In its latest fiscal quarter, the division that makes the Xbox 360 grew revenue 27 percent to $1.9 billion. This was about 12 percent of Microsoft’s overall revenue, up from 10 percent in the same period a year earlier.

In the holiday quarter, the hottest period for video games, Microsoft said it expects the division to increase revenue by 30 percent compared with a year ago, largely because of Kinect’s launch.

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