Hoping to garner support for its forthcoming X-box game console, Microsoft said yesterday that it has shipped the first software developer kits allowing the global game developer community to start developing games for the X-box. Over the next few months, Microsoft aims to deploy more than 1,000 XDKs (X-box software developer kits) at more than 100 companies developing games for the game console, which is scheduled to start shipping in the second half of 2001, the software vendor said in a statement. The XDK is based on chips designed by Intel and Nvidia which will provide the processor and graphics engine respectively for the X-box, and Microsoft's DirectX 8 API (application programming interface) development tools. Kicking off a three-phase program, which according to Microsoft is scheduled to culminate with the delivery of customized consoles in early 2001, the first XDK is an upgradeable PC-based development system. It includes early graphics hardware, a large hard drive, a beta version of DirectX 8, technical documentation and game pads that simulate X-box functionality. In another move designed to beef up the X-box platform, Microsoft in June acquired action game developer Bungie Software.