Microsoft is now offering a USD $99 Xbox to US consumers, provided they sign up for a two-year USD $14.99/month Xbox Live subscription.

The bundle, which includes a 4GB Xbox 360 and Kinect peripheral, appears to be aimed at those who want a console but don’t have the money upfront, such as college students.

However, once two years of Xbox Live is factored in, the package is actually more expensive than purchasing a 4GB Xbox and Kinect at the usual retail price and then paying for two years of Xbox Live subscription separately.

The move is likely a bid to capture as much of the market as possible before Nintendo’s Wii U is released at the end of this year, but if it’s successful may become a regular option for console purchases in the future.

We have contacted Microsoft NZ to see if a similar offer will be made here in New Zealand. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: According to Microsoft, this is a trial run which if successful will presumably be rolled out to other countries.