Nice timing, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Tuesday morning, the software giant announced that retailers should expect two to three times as many weekly shipments of its popular Xbox 360 video game systems. Microsoft made the production ramp-up possible by securing a third manufacturer, Celestica (NYSE:CLS), for its outsourcing fleet alongside Wistron and Flextronics (NASDAQ:FLEX).

However, it can't be much of a coincidence that this announcement comes just days after Sony (NYSE:SNE) announced the delay of its PlayStation 3. This is the sweet sound of opportunity for Microsoft; it hopes to land disenchanted PlayStation fans who were banking on a springtime release of their console's next-generation rollout.

Many argue that the success of Sony's PS2 came from its arrival a year earlier than the Xbox and Nintendo's GameCube. It's not as simple as that. Sony already had the video-game market lead with the original PlayStation, and it only helped that the new system was backward-compatible, capable of playing older titles. Sony's lead remains substantial on the console side as it nibbles away at Nintendo's dominance on the portable handheld side.

Still, every little bit helps. Microsoft had already overtaken Nintendo in stateside console sales. It should have enjoyed a great holiday season in 2005 as the lone next-generation system available, but the consoles were in short supply, and exclusive software selections were light. It's why Microsoft -- an Inside Value recommendation -- is now making sure that more systems hit the stores. The company is also pointing out that there will be 80 different software titles available for the 360 by June.

These systems aren't cheap. The 360 will run you either $299 for a bare-bones model or $399 for a more functional one. Young gamers who may only be able to afford one system may be tempted to choose the 360 as availability grows and the PS3's release appears distant.

It's why Microsoft is feeling pretty cocky these days. The company even took a shot at operating system rival Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL) in this morning's press release, noting that its Xbox Live online marketplace has gained more traction than Apple's iTunes by securing 10 million digital downloads from diehard gamers quicker than Apple's digital store hit that mark years ago.

Take it easy there, Mr. Softy. You can't thump two giants in the same press release!

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is an equal-opportunity gamer, with consoles from all three companies in his home. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.