Whoa, Nelly! As rumored, Microsoft is indeed shattering the home console pricing paradigm by trying something that US wireless carriers have been doing for years. As of now, the official Microsoft Store is hosting up a coupon that'll enable prospective Xbox buyers to snag a 4GB console bundle for just $99 (a $200 savings versus the outright unit)... so long as you agree to pay $14.99 per month for two solid years. That monthly fee -- which amounts to some $360 over the 24 month term -- gets you on the Xbox Live network with a Gold subscription, but remember, Microsoft's maintaining the ability to "terminate this offer at any time." Looking to score one yourself? Hit the source link and visit that "Find a store" icon; hopefully there's a B&M Microsoft Store near your neck of the woods.
Update: In case you're curious, yes, early termination fees will apply if you cut out of your two-year deal early. It's a prorated affair, with users asked to pay less the longer they maintain the contract. Those who part ways after only a month will have to pay $250, while those who cancel with just a month remaining will owe $12. All told, someone buying this and keeping true to the contract terms will pay $459 for the bundle and Live access, whereas those buying outright could snag it for $420 (or less, if scouring the web for cheaper Live subscriptions). The full ETF schedule is shown after the break.
Update II: Joystiq has confirmed that, for now, this is simply a pilot program. These machines will be sold only through the 16 US-based Microsoft Stores, and we can only assume the marketing and finance folks at the company will be watching reception like hawks.