Microsoft offers to replace 14 million 'smoking' Xbox leads

Microsoft has offered owners of more than 14 million Xbox games consoles replacement power leads because of safety fears.

Microsoft has offered owners of more than 14 million Xbox games consoles replacement power leads because of safety fears.

The alarm was raised after it was discovered a "rare electrical component failure" could pose a fire risk. The problem has so far resulted in internal damage to about one in 10,000 consoles, Microsoft said.

However, in 30 cases worldwide, the failure has caused minor injury or damage to property. Seven customers sustained minor burns to a hand.

In the remaining 23 cases, there was smoke damage or minor damage to carpets or other entertainment equipment. Microsoft has decided to voluntarily replace the power cords on the 14.1 million Xbox consoles affected and, in the meantime, advised owners to turn their machine off when not in use.

The alert relates to consoles in Europe manufactured before 13 January 2004 and before 23 October 2003 in all other parts of the world.

"This is a preventive step we're choosing to take despite the rarity of these incidents," said Robbie Bach, senior vice-president of Microsoft's home and entertainment division.

"We regret the inconvenience but believe that offering consumers a free replacement cord is the responsible thing to do."

To order a replacement cord, consumers should go to www.xbox.com and click on the "power cord replacement for Xbox" link.

Replacement power cords should arrive within two to four weeks.

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