The Xbox 360 will be rolled out across Europe tonight. Some stores in the UK and in continental Europe will be open until midnight in order to allow customers to pick up their consoles as early as possible. Marketing has begun in force, with a blitz of Xbox 360 commercials showing on TV – I noticed several last night, showing off the graphics in games. Shipment volumes for Europe do remain unclear, and it’s not certain how many people in the UK and Europe will be able to buy the consoles tonight. Demand is expected to be very large, with Xbox global marketing and publishing boss Peter Moore warning that not everyone who wants to get their hands on the next generation console in time for Xmas is going to get their wish.

Many retailers, particularly specialist retailers, have been running pre-order schemes for the console and will have no units available for customers who walk in tonight or tomorrow morning. Pre-orders at some retailers shut weeks or even months ago, and even some customers who pre-ordered consoles may not get their hardware for a few weeks.

However, others - including several mass-market retailers such as supermarkets - are going to operate a first-come first-served system for their supplies of consoles, with midnight openings being the order of the day for those outlets.