It's true: Microsoft is subsidizing an Xbox 360 bundle, and the deal starts right now, not during E3 2012 as we previously predicted. The coupon can be obtained here via the Microsoft Store, and it clearly reads that the bundle will contain a new 4 GB Xbox 360 and the Kinect motion sensor for only $99. The catch is that you must subscribe to a new two-year Xbox Live Gold contract (ball and chain) for $14.99 a month.
Now here's the REAL catch, and it's a bit of a downer if you were getting ready to take your $100 down to Walmart: the deal is good only at any physical Microsoft store. According to the fine print, hopeful customers are to bring "offer code 885370366266 to your local Microsoft Store." The coupon apparently needs to be printed and in-hand for scanning, and the 2-year contract signed before receiving the discounted $99 bundle.
Currently there are only twenty-one Microsoft Store locations listed in the United States, with seventeen of those actually open for business. So far there are no indications that the promotion will extend out into other stores in the near future, but that could change if this subsidized bundle proves extremely lucrative for Ballmer & Co. It's still quite possible we'll see full-blown support by E3 2012 just to undercut Nintendo and its sparkly new Wii U console.
For more information about the two-year contract, Microsoft's Terms & Conditions can be accessed here. As with any contract, a termination fee up to $250 (depending on the remaining time) will apply if the consumer breaks the agreement early. The offer is limited to the specific Xbox 360 and Kinect bundle as shown, and is subject to customer eligibility check, including credit approval.
"The ETF is intended to provide reasonable compensation to Microsoft for the losses it suffers when a customer does not remain a customer for the full term of the Agreement, the Terms read. "The early termination fee (ETF) is part of this Offer and is not a penalty."