Microsoft says it wants the Xbox 360 to live on beyond the typical five-year lifespan of most consoles. The original Xbox, along with most games consoles from the last few generations, only stay on the shelves for around half a decade. However, Microsoft says it now wants to emulate the success of the Sony PS2, which is still going strong after seven years.

"Look at the PS2; they've gone long-time and seem to have pretty good legs on what they are doing," said Mindy Mount, chief financial officer for Microsoft's entertainment division.

"If we were able to do that, as CFO I think that's great, because every year you draw it out you increase profitability," she said.

Xbox 360 for another five years?

Speaking at a BMO Capital Markets conference on interactive entertainment, Mount said that Microsoft would wait for the right time before launching a follow-up to the Xbox 360, and that that time is still a very long way off.

"At this point from the technological perspective, there are some real advances that make it worth having a next-generation console," Mount said. "Right now there aren't that many things on the horizon that you think, wow, that's going to be a game-changer."

It's certainly a bit of a tightrope that Microsoft will be walking. On the one hand it will want to breathe as much life into the Xbox 360 as possible. That will keep current gamers happy. It will also mean that Microsoft makes more money before it has to spend big on designing a new console.

Cat and mouse game

On the other hand, Microsoft also won't want to be left behind. Sony sees the PlayStation 3 having a lifespan of around 10 years - the Cell processor, with its multi-core architecture, was designed with this in mind. The Wii, in comparison, doesn't necessarily need an upgrade. The gesture-based control system and new way of playing games is the key reason to buy it.

The Xbox 360 launched two years ago and has since been bought by over 13 million gamers. To keep pace with the PS3, Microsoft might find itself forced to add high-def disc storage to the Xbox as a standard feature. There's enough processing power in the Xbox 360 for a good few years yet. What let's it down is storage capacity.

The Xbox 360 is currently available in three different flavours. The sans-hard drive Arcade model which sells for £199, the Premium (£250) and the Elite (£299).