Out of concern for consumer safety, Microsoft announced today that it will voluntarily replace the power cords on 14.1 million Xbox consoles worldwide after discovering a fault in an electrical component that can potentially cause a fire.

"This is a preventative step we're choosing to take despite the rarity of these incidents," said Robbie Bach, senior vice president, Microsoft Home & Entertainment Division. "We regret the inconvenience, but believe offering consumers a free replacement cord is the responsible thing to do."

"The replacement power cords are designed to protect consumers and their Xbox consoles from rare electrical component failures that can pose a fire hazard. Fewer than one in 10,000 consoles have experienced these component failures, and in almost all instances, any damage caused by these failures was contained within the console itself or limited to the tip of the power cord at the back of the console."

"However, in 30 consoles worldwide, these failures are reported to have caused minor injury or minor property damage. In seven instances, customers reported sustaining a minor burn to their hand. In 23 instances, customers reported smoke damage, or minor damage to a carpet or entertainment centre."

"In all regions except Continental Europe, Xbox consoles manufactured before 23rd October, 2003 require a replacement power cord. In Continental Europe, consoles manufactured before 13th January, 2004 require a replacement power cord."

"Not all replacement cords that Microsoft supplies to program participants will look the same. Which type of cord is shipped will depend on the date the console was manufactured and the country where it is used."

Customers who wish to take Microsoft up on their offer should head over to www.xbox.com and click on the "Power Cord Replacement for Xbox" link. The replacement power cords should take about two to four weeks to arrive and cusotmers are also advised that they should turn off their Xbox consoles when not in use.

Those who do not have access to the web (and are not reading this)... should contact Microsoft on the following appropriate free phone number:

United Kingdom: 0800 028 9276

Republic of Ireland: 1800923947