From new kid on the block to household name


Microsoft’s Xbox consoles have been a fixture in the gaming business for 20 years now, spanning 4 console generations and establishing Microsoft as a significant participant in the section alongside Sony and Nintendo.

Microsoft continues to be a relative newcomer to the console house in contrast to its rivals, however the Xbox consoles have introduced their fair proportion of innovation to the business and change into one other money cow for the Redmond big. So with that in thoughts, we thought now’s a very good a time as any to have a look at the historical past of Xbox.

Microsoft Xbox: X marks the beginning spot

Original Xbox

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

The first Xbox launched again in November 2001, and in some ways established the template that almost all subsequent consoles would use. For starters, it was the first console with an built-in broadband modem.

Now, web capabilities weren’t new at the time, as consoles like the Sega Dreamcast supplied 56Okay modem assist. But this was the first time it was built-in into the console (additionally providing extra than simply dial-up), and Microsoft would go on to launch its influential Xbox Live subscription service for on-line play in 2002. Fast-forward to 2021 and all three console makers provide paid providers for on-line play.

The 8GB onerous drive was one other main addition at the time, which meant Xbox house owners may retailer their recreation saves, patches, music, and extra on the machine. This was in stark distinction to its rivals at the time, which supplied reminiscence playing cards as paid extras for recreation saves.

More Xbox protection: Xbox Game Pass versus Game Pass Ultimate — Which is right for you?

The first console in Xbox historical past was a powerhouse too, that includes what was primarily a Pentium III processor, 64MB of RAM, and a GPU primarily based on the Nvidia Geforce 3. This {hardware} combo resulted in multi-platform titles that always appeared greatest on Microsoft’s console, in addition to unique titles and PC ports that appeared the enterprise too.

Perhaps the sole draw back to the unique console’s {hardware} was the controller that originally shipped with it in North America and Europe. Informally dubbed “The Duke,” this controller was thought-about outsized for a lot of shoppers. Microsoft later made the choice to swap out “The Duke” for the smaller Controller S that was made for Japan.

The unique Xbox didn’t have the biggest library of its era, however it did see console-exclusive titles like the Halo sequence, Jade Empire, Forza Motorsport, Ninja Gaiden, Steel Battalion, and the Project Gotham Racing sequence. It additionally noticed PC ports like Knights of the Old Republic, Doom 3, Half Life 2, and The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind, in addition to main assist from Sega with video games like Jet Set Radio Future and Shenmue 2. Microsoft additionally dipped its toes into the digital recreation obtain house with the Xbox Live Arcade service in 2004, providing a wide range of bite-sized video games to buy or check out.

Microsoft’s OG Xbox was by no means a monetary success for the firm, because it misplaced loads of money on every console bought. This isn’t an unusual follow in the business at launch, as producers are in a position to introduce fashions down the line which can be cheaper to produce as parts mature (as well as to different income streams comparable to equipment). Unfortunately for Microsoft, its use of primarily off-the-shelf PC components restricted the firm in what it may do to reduce prices.

Microsoft Xbox quick info

  • The “X” in “Xbox” is derived from Microsoft’s DirectX APIs for Windows, which dealt with issues like multimedia, peripherals, and (after all) graphics.
  • Microsoft initially confirmed off a console that was actually in the shape of an X.
  • Prior to launching the Xbox, Microsoft was in talks with Nintendo about buying the Kyoto gaming big. According to a book by veteran journalist Dean Takahashi, a determine of $25 billion was mooted and Microsoft wished Nintendo to drop its upcoming GameDice and get behind the Xbox. The two events reportedly went their separate methods by January 2000.
  • There was a significant push from some inside Microsoft to launch the OG Xbox with no onerous drive, in accordance to an interview with former Xbox government Ed Fries (skip to the eight-minute mark). The two camps reportedly met with Bill Gates to settle the argument again in 1999. Of course, the console ultimately launched with the onerous drive.
  • The console nonetheless shipped with wired controllers, however Microsoft added so-called “breakaway” cables as an answer to individuals doubtlessly tripping over the cable. As the name implies, the controller cable had a mechanism to simply disconnect itself as a substitute of sending both the gamepad or console flying.
  • The OG Xbox shipped with a DVD drive and used DVDs for recreation storage very like the PS2. Unlike the PS2 nonetheless, it couldn’t play DVDs out of the field. You had to purchase a “DVD Playback Kit” to allow playback, consisting of a dongle and DVD distant.
  • An easter egg for the unique Xbox was revealed in 2021, 20 years after the console’s launch. The easter egg reveals a listing of staff who labored on the Dashboard interface.

Xbox 360: Turn 360 levels and strolling to greatness

Xbox 360 Evan Amos Wikipedia 1

The second Xbox console was unarguably the most vital console in Xbox historical past, because it wanted to present Microsoft was right here to keep and that the unique console was no fluke. The Xbox 360 launched in November 2005, giving it a yr’s head-start over Sony’s eagerly anticipated PlayStation 3.

Microsoft’s sophomore console was out there in two configurations at launch, specifically a $299 “Core” mannequin with no onerous drive and a $399 Pro/Premium model with a 20GB removable onerous drive. This was a much more engaging price-point for both model in contrast to the PS3’s $499 and $599 for the 20GB and 60GB fashions respectively. Then once more, each Xbox 360 variants lacked HDMI and Wi-Fi at launch, with these options solely coming later down the line.

The Xbox 360 delivered a triple-core six-thread 3.2GHz PowerPC CPU (dubbed Xenon), making it a significant leap ahead in contrast to the unique Xbox. Other notable core specs embody a robust ATI Xenos GPU and 512MB of unified RAM. These specs and acquainted instruments made for a console that was significantly simpler to program for in contrast to the extra unique PS3, leading to many video games operating extra easily on the Xbox 360 in the early going.

The console launched with a wi-fi controller (though wired variations have been out there too) and this gamepad earned loads of optimistic opinions. Critics praised options like the information/dwelling button (now a typical fixture on console gamepads) and analog shoulder triggers.

Microsoft’s second console additionally stepped up in the on-line house, increasing on its Xbox Live Arcade titles whereas additionally providing full recreation downloads, film/TV present leases, streaming apps, and extra. Otherwise, customers nonetheless required a paid Xbox Live Gold subscription to play on-line.

The Xbox 360 was an awesome industrial success, however a {hardware} flaw killed thousands and thousands of consoles.

The Xbox 360 performed host to a wide range of unique titles, together with the Halo franchise, Gears of War sequence, Forza Motorsport video games, Viva Pinata titles, and Fable 2 and three. We additionally noticed robust third-party assist from the get-go, with a couple of third-party video games even lacking the PS3 due to its later launch. You didn’t have to surrender all of your unique Xbox video games both, as just below half the unique machine’s library was suitable with the 360.

The firm additionally launched the Kinect movement digital camera in 2010, permitting you to use your whole physique for video games. That meant you could possibly bodily bounce in the actual world and have your avatar bounce in a platform recreation, or dance in the actual world to have your avatar dance in a title like Dance Central. It additionally supplied a microphone for voice instructions and allowed you to conduct gestures for numerous console features. Kinect was commercially profitable, however it didn’t see a lot in the method of killer apps.

Unfortunately for Microsoft and Xbox 360 house owners alike, the console was plagued with so-called Red Ring of Death (RROD) {hardware} failures for the first couple of years on the market. It’s believed that the situation was associated to a kind of solder that turns into brittle at excessive temperatures or a chip design flaw. Nevertheless, a 2009 Square Trade survey discovered that the Xbox 360 failure price stood at nearly 24%, in contrast to 10% for the PS3 and a couple of.7% for the Wii.

Microsoft would find yourself setting apart simply over $1 billion for repairs and different related prices. It additionally supplied a three-year extended warranty to cowl RROD failures, which meant I wasn’t too bummed about going by two faulty consoles earlier than the third one labored positive. Subsequent console revisions would remedy the situation although.

Speaking of console revisions, Microsoft launched a couple of tweaked SKUs all through the 360’s lifetime. We received the premium Xbox 360 Elite (that includes a 120GB onerous drive and HDMI), the Xbox 360 Arcade to change the unique entry-level mannequin (that includes a 256MB reminiscence card and HDMI), the Xbox 360 Slim (boasting a slimmer design, 250GB onerous drive, and Wi-Fi), and the Xbox 360 E (bringing an Xbox One-style design).

The Xbox 360 might have loved first-mover benefit then, however PS3 value cuts mixed with higher (and extra) unique titles down the line meant Sony’s console simply edged out Microsoft’s machine at the finish of the era. Nevertheless, the Xbox 360 continues to be the hottest console in Xbox historical past.

Xbox 360 quick info

  • The early Xbox 360 improvement equipment was actually simply an Apple Mac G5 with an ATI graphics card, owing to the equivalent PowerPC CPU structure.
  • Microsoft additionally allowed you to swap out the Xbox 360’s face plates with one in all your individual selecting.
  • The towel trick was one in all the hottest dwelling cures for the RROD situation. Some shoppers swore that wrapping a faulty console in a towel and leaving the console on for 10 to 15 minutes would resurrect the machine.
  • Microsoft additionally launched an HD DVD drive add-on for the Xbox 360, serving as a competing format to Blu Ray discs for video content material. In case you’re questioning, Blu Ray received that battle.
  • The Xbox 360 additionally debuted the achievements system, permitting avid gamers to accrue factors for in-game accomplishments (1,000 factors in every retail recreation). This would then be mirrored in a participant’s gamer rating. It would additionally lead to a group of avid gamers sharing phrase of titles with the best achievements (hello, Avatar: The Last Airbender). Sony would later replace the PS3 to provide its personal achievements system, permitting you to earn digital trophies as a substitute of “achievements.”
  • We lined it in our PlayStation history article, however a senior IBM engineer admitted that the Xbox 360’s Xenon CPU was truly a barely modified model of the PS3’s Cell CPU. IBM, Toshiba, and Sony spent $400 million on the Cell mission, so Sony in a method partially funded a competitor’s processor.

Xbox One: No, not the first Xbox

Xbox One

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

The Xbox 360 misplaced momentum to the PS3 in the second half of the era, inflicting Sony’s console to ultimately win that spherical of the console warfare (effectively, technically, the Wii received). Sony and its accomplice studios delivered loads of unique titles whereas Microsoft and its affiliated studios sputtered. So certainly Microsoft would study from its errors and are available out swinging with its subsequent console?

Microsoft revealed the Xbox One in 2013, and the firm’s technique for the new gaming console was to neglect the gaming ingredient in favor of pushing the machine for dwell TV, video streaming, and extra. To this finish, the console shipped with an HDMI-in, permitting customers to plug their cable packing containers, rival consoles, and extra through the Xbox One.

The Redmond firm additionally courted controversy over its preliminary plans for on-line connectivity and bodily video games. More particularly, the firm famous earlier than launch that the Xbox One would require a web-based check-in each 24 hours (even for those who wished to play offline video games) and it could additionally introduce restrictions on the sharing and resale of bodily copies. Microsoft would make a U-turn on each insurance policies following an enormous outcry from shoppers, however not earlier than Sony posted an offbeat video displaying how PS4 recreation sharing would work.

Adding salt to the wound was Xbox bigwig Don Mattrick infamously stating that individuals who wished to play their older video games on Xbox One ought to simply purchase an Xbox 360 as a substitute. It was the sort of conceitedness that outlined Sony throughout the early days of the PS3.

All of this mixed to make the Xbox One a much less engaging proposition for some avid gamers, with Microsoft touting 10 million models shipped a yr after its launch. Meanwhile, Sony had reported 10 million models bought 9 months after its launch. And the hole would solely widen in the months and years that adopted, to the level that Microsoft stopped releasing cargo/gross sales figures in 2015.

In any occasion, the Xbox One delivered a reasonably respectable machine on paper, that includes the identical octa-core AMD Jaguar CPU as the PS4, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB onerous drive, AMD GCN graphics with 12 compute models, and a Blu Ray drive. Microsoft’s console did boast barely increased CPU clock speeds, however the PS4 delivered 8GB of quick GDDR5 RAM and 18 compute models for the GCN GPU. This distinction meant that we regularly noticed multi-platform titles run at 1080p on the PS4 however at 900p on the Xbox One. It didn’t assist that Microsoft initially devoted ~10% of the GPU energy to Kinect no matter whether or not you have been utilizing the peripheral. Thankfully, the firm made a U-turn on this choice lower than a yr later.

Related: The best Xbox One games you can buy right now

Microsoft managed to earn loads of goodwill following this troubled launch, as the firm introduced backward compatibility with some Xbox 360 video games in 2015. This was no imply feat given the fully completely different structure being utilized by the Xbox 360 in contrast to the Xbox One. We’d ultimately see a whole bunch of backwards suitable Xbox 360 video games on Xbox One, however there are nonetheless a wide range of video games that aren’t backwards suitable (e.g. Dirt, Max Payne 3, and the Project Gotham Racing video games).

The firm would go one higher in 2017 by saying that each one unique Xbox video games which can be suitable with the Xbox 360 can be suitable with the Xbox One. In different phrases, you could possibly play all three generations of Xbox on one console. Even the PS4 didn’t provide backward compatibility with both the PS3 or PS2.

Microsoft would comply with up the Xbox One with the Xbox One S and Xbox One X in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The Xbox One S primarily changed the customary Xbox One, bringing a barely increased GPU clock pace, HDR, and 4K video assist (through streaming apps or 4K Blu Ray disc). Meanwhile, the Xbox One X sat above the Xbox One and Xbox One S when it comes to energy, delivering 12GB of RAM, a 2.3GHz octa-core Jaguar CPU, and a massively upgraded GPU (that includes 40 compute models) for true 4K gaming. Sony additionally launched the beefy PS4 Pro at round this time, however Microsoft’s console had the efficiency edge, usually hitting native 4K in multi-platform titles in contrast to “checkerboarded” (upscaled) 4K on the Pro.

The Redmond firm would even use the Xbox One X’s energy to make some older backwards suitable Xbox 360 and unique Xbox video games look and run higher. For instance, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Ninja Gaiden Black gained 4K assist.

What for those who don’t need to play outdated video games although? The Xbox One library paled as compared to the PS4’s portfolio, however you bought video games like Forza Motorsport 5, 6 and seven, the Forza Horizon sequence, Gears of War Four and Gears 5, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Sunset Overdrive, and Sea of Thieves.

We additionally noticed the Xbox Game Pass service debut on this era, supplying you with a number of video games to play on your console or PC for a month-to-month subscription payment. And it’s since grown from energy to energy to change into one in all the greatest offers in gaming.

The Xbox One controller wasn’t all that completely different from the Xbox 360 at launch, save for ergonomic adjustments and the introduction of impulse triggers. The latter supplied vibration in the triggers, comparable to once you drive over a rumble strip in a racing recreation. The gamepad would have a few revisions over time, comparable to a 2015 mannequin that launched a 3.5mm port, and the Xbox One S controller that switched to Bluetooth for wi-fi connectivity. The agency would additionally launch an Elite controller in 2015, with the a lot increased price ticket getting you interchangeable rear paddle buttons in addition to interchangeable analog stick tops and D-pads.

Xbox One quick info

  • The Xbox One initially shipped with a new era Kinect digital camera for gesture and voice controls, however Microsoft would ultimately launch a console with out the peripheral. The firm would ditch Kinect on the Xbox One altogether in 2017.
  • Microsoft initially revealed the console would have a CPU clocked at 1.6GHz and a GPU clocked at 800MHz. But the firm increased the clock speeds to 1.75GHz and 853MHz respectively throughout mass manufacturing.
  • Microsoft promised that builders may harness the energy of its Azure cloud information facilities to enhance processing energy of Xbox One video games. This was demonstrated with spectacular destruction in Crackdown 3, however the remaining recreation didn’t have this degree of destruction. In reality, I don’t assume a single recreation harnessed the cloud in a comparable method.
  • Rumors of an Xbox set-top field surfaced a yr prior to the Xbox One’s launch. The set-top field would’ve apparently supported “casual” video games relatively than Xbox titles, in addition to leisure and streaming apps.
  • An Xbox streaming stick code-named Hobart was rumored again in 2016, mentioned to be able to streaming video games over your house community. This was apparently canceled shortly earlier than mass manufacturing. It’s unclear if this streaming stick was associated to the aforementioned set-top field mission.
  • Early devkits went up for public sale on eBay in 2012, earlier than Microsoft even acknowledged the Xbox One’s existence.

Xbox Series S and Series X

xbox series x vs series s front with controller 3

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

If the Xbox One marked a low level for Microsoft, then the Xbox Series consoles are shaping up to be an intriguing return to type. The Redmond firm got here out swinging with two consoles in November 2020. This in itself isn’t uncommon, as Sony did the identical with the PS5, however what’s uncommon is the efficiency hole between the two consoles.

The Xbox Series X is undoubtedly the extra premium providing, that includes an octa-core AMD Zen 2 CPU clocked at 3.8GHz, RDNA 2 graphics with 52 compute models (giving 12 teraflops of energy), 16GB of quick GDDR6 RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a Blu Ray drive. Meanwhile, the Xbox Series S options the identical Zen 2 CPU clocked at 3.6GHz, an RDNA 2 GPU with 20 compute models (serving up 4 teraflops of energy), 10GB of GDDR6 RAM, a 512GB SSD, and no Blu Ray drive.

This disparity boils down to the Xbox Series X focusing on 4K/60fps gameplay (all the method up to 120Hz assist or 8K) whereas the Xbox Series S goals for 1440p resolutions at 60fps (with 120fps assist too). Will this efficiency hole lead to the Xbox Series S holding the Series X again a couple of years down the line? Only time will inform, however each consoles addressed a key weak point in the earlier era (CPU energy) by providing some highly effective AMD Zen 2 {hardware}.

Nevertheless, the choice to goal two starkly completely different efficiency factors signifies that Microsoft is in a position to provide a aggressive base value. The Xbox Series S begins at simply $299, whereas the Series X is offered for $499. That means you will get a next-generation (effectively, present era now) Xbox for $100 cheaper than the least expensive PS5.

The least expensive Xbox Series console is less expensive than the least expensive PS5. Toss in Game Pass and you have loads of worth for cash.

Microsoft’s new machines additionally stand out by having the most complete backward compatibility coverage of the large three console makers and in Xbox historical past. All Xbox One video games run on the Series S and X, however all Xbox 360 and OG Xbox video games that ran on the Xbox One run on the new consoles as effectively. So that’s an enormous feather in the Redmond firm’s cap. In reality, each the Xbox Series S and Series X provide decision and frame-rate enhancements for some older titles, with the Series X having fun with the most dramatic enhancements.

It’s nonetheless early days for the new programs, so unique titles are briefly provide. But standout video games at this stage embody Grounded, Forza Horizon 4, and Gears 5 (that are all playable on Xbox One anyway). Upcoming big-name video games embody Halo Infinite, Fable, and Flight Simulator.

Another large benefit for Microsoft is the Game Pass subscription service, which is offered on these new consoles as effectively. And between day-one releases of first-party video games and Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda (subsequently including the writer’s video games to the service), you’re getting a ton of bang on your buck.

The Xbox Series S/X controller is an evolution over the last-generation controller, however does see the addition of a share button for rapidly sharing screenshots and movies. We additionally get Bluetooth Low Energy assist and USB-C connectivity. It’s additionally value noting that the new controller nonetheless depends on AA batteries relatively than having an built-in lithium-ion battery like rivals. But as was the case in earlier generations, you should purchase an official rechargeable battery pack.

Xbox Series S/X quick info

  • The Xbox Series X bore the code-name Anaconda prior to its unveiling, whereas the Series S console was known as Lockhart.
  • Microsoft’s new consoles comply with the Xbox One by providing a developer mode as effectively for $20. But the further horsepower means it’s possible to play superior emulators (e.g. PSP, PS2, GameDice) through this mode.
  • One rumor prior to the new Xbox reveal instructed that Microsoft was working on an inexpensive machine for cloud streaming solely.

That’s it for a have a look at the historical past of Xbox consoles. How many Xbox machines did you personal? Let us know in the feedback. Which one was your favourite although? Vote in our ballot under.




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