Xbox (console)

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Xbox
Xbox logo
Xbox console with "Controller S"
Xbox console with "Controller S"
Developer Microsoft
Manufacturer Flextronics[1]
Product family Xbox
Type Home video game console
Generation Sixth generation
Retail availability NA November 15, 2001[2]
JP 20020222February 22, 2002
AUS 20020314March 14, 2002
EU 20020314March 14, 2002
Discontinued JP 20060604June 4, 2006
EU 20070311March 11, 2007
NA 20080518May 18, 2008
Units sold 24+ million (as of May 10, 2006)[3]
Media DVD, CD, Download
Operating system Custom (Based on Windows NT architecture)
CPU Custom 733 MHz Intel Pentium III "Coppermine-based" processor
Memory 64 MB of DDR SDRAM @ 200 MHz
Storage 8 or 10 GB internal Hard Drive (Formatted to 8 GB with allotted system reserve and MS Dash), 8 MB memory card
Graphics 233 MHz nVidia NV2A
Controller input 4× Xbox controller ports (proprietary USB interface), (Wireless controllers not supported directly - third-party wireless controllers require a wired base unit)
Connectivity 100 Mbit Ethernet
Online services Xbox Live
Best-selling game Halo 2, 8 million (as of May 9, 2006)[4][5]
Successor Xbox 360

The Xbox is the first installment in the Xbox series and a home video game console manufactured by Microsoft. It was released on November 15, 2001, in North America, followed by Australia and Europe in 2002.[2] It was Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console market. The sixth-generation console competed with Sony's PlayStation 2, Sega's Dreamcast, and the Nintendo GameCube. It was the first console produced by an American company since the Atari Jaguar ceased production in 1996.

In November 2002, Microsoft launched Xbox Live, a fee-based online gaming service that enabled subscribers to download new content and connect with other players through a broadband connection.[6][7] Unlike other online services from Sega and Sony, Xbox Live had support in the original console design through an integrated Ethernet port. The service gave Microsoft an early foothold in online gaming and would help the Xbox become a relevant competitor to other sixth-generation consoles.

Xbox's successor, the Xbox 360, was launched in November 2005. The Xbox was soon discontinued beginning with Microsoft's worst-performing market, Japan, in 2005. Other countries would follow suit in 2006.[8] The last Xbox game in Europe was Xiaolin Showdown released in June 2007, and the last game in North America was Madden NFL 09 released in August 2008. Support for out-of-warranty Xbox consoles was discontinued on March 2, 2009. Support for Xbox Live on the console ended on April 15, 2010.[6]

History[edit]

In 1998, four engineers from Microsoft's DirectX team, Kevin Bachus, Seamus Blackley, Ted Hase and DirectX team leader Otto Berkes, disassembled some Dell laptop computers to construct a prototype Microsoft Windows-based video game console. The team hoped to create a console to compete with Sony's upcoming PlayStation 2, which was luring game developers away from the Windows platform. The team approached Ed Fries, the leader of Microsoft's game publishing business at the time, and pitched their "DirectX Box" console based on the DirectX graphics technology developed by Berkes' team. Fries decided to support the team's idea of creating a Windows DirectX based console.[9][10]

During development, the original DirectXbox name was shortened to Xbox. Microsoft's marketing department did not like the Xbox name, and suggested many alternatives. During focus testing, the Xbox name was left on the list of possible names to demonstrate how unpopular the Xbox name would be with consumers. However, consumer testing revealed that Xbox was preferred by far over the other suggested names and "Xbox" became the official name of the product.[11]

It was Microsoft's first video game console after collaborating with Sega to port Windows CE to the Dreamcast console. Microsoft repeatedly delayed the console, which was first mentioned publicly in late 1999 during interviews with Microsoft's then-CEO Bill Gates. Gates stated that a gaming/multimedia device was essential for multimedia convergence in the new times. He has even been quoted as saying "if we do not advance, to the next generation, we will most surely fall behind our competitors (Apple)".[12]

The Xbox was officially announced at the Game Developers Conference on March 10, 2000.[13] Audiences were impressed by the console's technology. At the time of Gates' announcement, Sega's Dreamcast sales were diminishing and Sony's PlayStation 2 was just going on sale in Japan.[14] The Xbox was officially unveiled to the public by Gates and guest professional wrestler The Rock at CES 2001 in Las Vegas on January 3, 2001.[15] Microsoft announced Xbox's release dates and prices at E3 2001 in May.[16] Most Xbox launch titles were unveiled at E3, most notably Halo: Combat Evolved and Dead or Alive 3.[17][unreliable source?]

Due to the immense popularity of gaming consoles in Japan, Microsoft delayed the release of the Xbox in Europe to focus on the Japanese video game market. Although delayed, the European release proved to be more successful than the launch of the Xbox in Japan.

Some of Microsoft's plans proved effective. In preparation for its launch, Microsoft acquired Bungie and used Halo: Combat Evolved as its launch title. At the time, GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64 had been one of the few hit FPS games to appear on a console, some of other ones being Perfect Dark and Medal of Honor. Halo: Combat Evolved proved a good application to drive the Xbox's sales.[14] In 2002, Microsoft made the second place slot in consoles sold in North America. The Xbox Live service gave Microsoft an early foothold in online gaming and would help the Xbox become a relevant competitor to other sixth-generation consoles.

Popular launch games for the console included Dead or Alive 3, Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding, Halo: Combat Evolved, Fuzion Frenzy, Project Gotham Racing, and Jet Set Radio Future.

Promotion[edit]

In 2002, the Independent Television Commission (ITC) banned a television advertisement for the Xbox in the United Kingdom after complaints that it was "offensive, shocking and in bad taste". It depicted a mother giving birth to a baby boy, who is fired like a projectile through a window aging rapidly as he flies through the air. The advertisement ends with an old man crash-landing into his own grave and the slogan, "Life is short. Play more."[18]

Discontinuation and successor[edit]

The Xbox's successor, the Xbox 360, was officially unveiled announced on May 12, 2005 on MTV and released in North America on November 22, 2005. Nvidia ceased production of the Xbox's GPU in August 2005, which marked the end of brand-new Xbox production.[19] The last Xbox game in Europe was Xiaolin Showdown released in June 2007, and the last game in North America was Madden NFL 09 released in August 2008. Support for out-of-warranty Xbox consoles was discontinued on March 2, 2009. Support for Xbox Live on the console ended on April 15, 2010.[6]

The Xbox 360 supports a limited number of the Xbox's game library if the player has an official Xbox 360 Hard Drive. Xbox games were added up until November 2007. Xbox game saves cannot be transferred to Xbox 360, and the ability to play Xbox games through Xbox LIVE has been discontinued since April 15, 2010. It is still possible to play Xbox games with System Link functionality online via both the original console & the Xbox 360 with tunneling software such as XLink Kai.

Hardware[edit]

The use of standard computer DVD and hard drives gave the Xbox most of its weight and bulk.

The Xbox was the first video game console to feature a built-in hard disk drive, used primarily for storing game saves and content downloaded from Xbox Live. This eliminated the need for separate memory cards (although some older consoles, such as the Amiga CD32 used internal flash memory and others like the TurboGrafx-CD, Sega CD and Sega Saturn had featured built-in battery backup memory prior to 2001). An Xbox user could rip music from standard audio CDs to the hard drive, and these songs were used for the custom soundtracks in some games.[20]

The Xbox was the first gaming product to feature Dolby Interactive Content-Encoding Technology, which allows real-time Dolby Digital encoding in game consoles. Previous game consoles could only use Dolby Digital 5.1 during non-interactive "cut scene" playback.[21]

The Xbox is based on commodity PC hardware and is much larger and heavier than its contemporaries. This is largely due to a bulky tray-loading DVD-ROM drive and the standard-size 3.5 inch hard drive. The Xbox has also pioneered safety features, such as breakaway cables for the controllers to prevent the console from being pulled from the surface it rests on.

Several internal hardware revisions have been made in an ongoing battle to discourage modding (hackers continually updated modchip designs in an attempt to defeat them), to cut manufacturing costs, and to make the DVD-ROM drive more reliable (some of the early units' drives gave Disc Reading Errors due to the unreliable Thomson DVD-ROM drives used). Later generation units that used the Thomson TGM-600 DVD-ROM drives and the Philips VAD6011 DVD-ROM drives were still vulnerable to failure that rendered the consoles either unable to read newer discs or caused them to halt the console with an error code usually indicating a PIO/DMA identification failure, respectively. These units were not covered under the extended warranty.

In 2002 Microsoft and Nvidia entered arbitration over a dispute on the pricing of Nvidia's chips for the Xbox.[22] Nvidia's filing with the SEC indicated that Microsoft was seeking a $13 million discount on shipments for NVIDIA's fiscal year 2002. Microsoft alleged violations of the agreement the two companies entered, sought reduced chipset pricing, and sought to ensure that Nvidia fulfill Microsoft's chipset orders without limits on quantity. The matter was privately settled on February 6, 2003.[23]

The Xbox includes a standard AV cable which provides composite video and monaural or stereo audio to TVs equipped with RCA inputs. European Xboxes also included an RCA jack to SCART converter block as well as the standard AV cable.

An 8 MB removable solid state memory card can be plugged into the controllers, onto which game saves can either be copied from the hard drive when in the Xbox dashboard's memory manager or saved during a game. Most Xbox game saves can be copied to the memory unit and moved to another console but some Xbox saves are digitally signed. It is also possible to save an Xbox Live account on a memory unit, to simplify its use on more than one Xbox.

Technical specifications[edit]

Controllers[edit]

Main article: Xbox Controller
Original Xbox controller
Xbox controller S

The Xbox controller features two analog sticks, a pressure-sensitive directional pad, two analog triggers, a Back button, a Start button, two accessory slots and six 8-bit analog action buttons (A/Green, B/Red, X/Blue, Y/Yellow, and Black and White buttons).[24] The standard Xbox controller (also nicknamed the "Fatty"[25] and later, the "Duke"[26]) was originally the controller bundled with Xbox systems for all territories except Japan. The controller has been criticized for being bulky compared to other video game controllers; it was awarded "Blunder of the Year" by Game Informer in 2001,[27] a Guinness World Record for the biggest controller in Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2008, and was ranked the second-worst video game controller ever by IGN editor Craig Harris.[28]

The "Controller S" (codenamed "Akebono"), a smaller, lighter Xbox controller, was originally the standard Xbox controller only in Japan,[29] designed for users with smaller hands.[30][31] The "Controller S" was later released in other territories by popular demand and by 2002 replaced the standard controller in the Xbox's retail package, with the larger original controller remaining available as an accessory.

Software[edit]

Operating system[edit]

The Xbox runs a custom operating system which was once believed to be a modified version of the Windows 2000 kernel. It exposes APIs similar to APIs found in Microsoft Windows, such as DirectX 8.1. The system software may have been based on the Windows NT architecture that powered Windows 2000; it is not a modified version of either.[32]

The user interface for the Xbox is called the Xbox Dashboard. It features a media player that can be used to play music CDs, rip CDs to the Xbox's built-in hard drive and play music that has been ripped to the hard drive; it also lets users manage game saves, music, and downloaded content from Xbox Live, and lets Live users sign in and manage their account. The dashboard is only available when the user is not watching a movie or playing a game. It uses many shades of green and black for the user interface, to be consistent with the physical Xbox color scheme. When the Xbox was released in 2001 the Live service was not online yet, so the dashboard's Live feature was unusable.

Xbox Live was released in 2002, but in order to access it users had to buy the Xbox Live starter kit containing a headset, a subscription, and supplemental[clarification needed]. While the Xbox was still being supported by Microsoft, the Xbox Dashboard was updated via Live several times to reduce cheating and add features.

Games[edit]

The Xbox launched in North America on November 15, 2001. Its most successful launch game was Halo: Combat Evolved.[33] Its sequel, Halo 2, is the best-selling Xbox game worldwide.[5] Although there were several more popular second-party launch titles, including NFL Fever 2002,[34] Project Gotham Racing,[35] and Dead or Alive 3,[36] the early public reputation of the Xbox was damaged by the failure of Azurik: Rise of Perathia and other games designed and marketed by Microsoft.[37]

Although the console gained strong third party support from its inception, many early Xbox games did not fully use its powerful hardware, with few additional features or graphical improvements to distinguish them from the PS2 version, thus negating one of the Xbox's main selling points. Sony countered the Xbox for a short time by temporarily securing PlayStation 2 exclusives for highly anticipated games such as the Grand Theft Auto series and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

In 2002 and 2003, several releases helped the Xbox gain momentum and distinguish itself from the PS2. The Xbox Live online service was launched in late 2002 alongside pilot titles MotoGP, MechAssault and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon. Several best-selling and critically acclaimed titles for the Xbox soon followed, such as Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Ninja Gaiden and LucasArts' Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Take-Two Interactive's exclusivity deal with Sony was amended to allow Grand Theft Auto III and its sequels to be published for the Xbox. Many other publishers got into the trend of releasing the Xbox version alongside the PS2 version, instead of delaying it for months.

In 2004 Halo 2 became the highest-grossing release in entertainment history, making over $125 million in its first day[38] and becoming Xbox Live's third killer app after MechAssault & Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3. That year Microsoft made a deal to put Electronic Arts's popular titles on Xbox Live.

The last game released on the Xbox was Madden NFL 09, on August 12, 2008.

Services[edit]

Xbox Live logo used from 2005-2012
Main article: Xbox Live

On November 15, 2002, Microsoft launched its Xbox Live online gaming service, allowing subscribers to play online Xbox games with other subscribers around the world and download new content directly to the system's hard drive. The online service works only with a broadband Internet connection. Approximately 250,000 subscribers signed up within two months of Xbox Live's launch.[39] In July 2004, Microsoft announced that Xbox Live had reached 1 million subscribers; in July 2005, membership reached two million, and by July 2007 there were more than 3 million subscribers. By May 2009, the number had ballooned to 20 million current subscribers.[40] On February 5, 2010, Marc Whitten posted on gamerscoreblog that Xbox Live support for the original Xbox games would be discontinued as of April 14, 2010.[6] Services were discontinued on schedule, but a group of 20 gamers continued to play for almost a month afterwards by simply leaving their consoles on connected to Halo 2.[41] APACHE N4SIR was the final user to play on the original Xbox's Live Service and was finally disconnected on May 11, 2010, at 01:58 EDT (UTC−4).[42][43]

Sales[edit]

Region Units sold
(as of May 10, 2006)
First available
North America 16 million November 15, 2001
Europe 6 million March 14, 2002
Asia & Pacific 2 million February 22, 2002
Worldwide 24 million

On November 15, 2001, Xbox launched in North America and quickly sold out. Its launch in that region was successful, selling 1.53 million units three months after launch, which is higher than its successor Xbox 360, as well as the GameCube, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and even the PlayStation 2 and Wii.[44]

The Xbox has sold 24 million units worldwide as of May 10, 2006, according to Microsoft.[3] This is divided out to 16 million units sold in North America, six million units in Europe, and just two million units sold in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

The Xbox was almost always behind the PlayStation 2 in terms of sales, although in April 2004, the Xbox outsold the PS2 in the U.S.[45] Despite lagging far behind the PlayStation 2's sales, the Xbox was overall a success (especially in North America), keeping a steady second place in the generation sales.

Japan[edit]

Despite a strong promotion in Japan,[46][47] the country saw poor sales (450,000 as of November 2011).[48] Some analysts already believed that the Xbox would have trouble competing with Sony and Nintendo before its Japanese launch, claiming that the Xbox would be competing against its local counterparts and that the console does not fit well with Japanese society (e.g., console size), as well as the lack of Japanese-appealing launch titles, such as role-playing games.[49] For the week ending April 14, 2002, the Xbox was by far outsold by its Sony and Nintendo rivals, as well as the WonderSwan and even the PSone.[50] In November 2002, the Xbox chief in Japan stepped down, leading to further consultations about Xbox's future, which had by then sold just 278,860 units in the country since its February launch.[51][52] For the week ending July 18, 2004, the Xbox sold just 272 units, which was so poor that even the PSone outsold it by four.[53] The Xbox did, however, outsell the Nintendo GameCube for the week ending May 26, 2002.[54] Despite Microsoft's struggles, some Japanese-appealing games were released exclusively for the Xbox, such as Dead or Alive 3 or Ninja Gaiden, which hugely contributed to the sales of Xbox in Japan. Its successor Xbox 360 sold 1.6 million units as of February 2014 .[55]

Modding[edit]

Main article: Xbox modding

The popularity of the Xbox, as well as (in the United States) its comparatively short 90-day warranty, inspired efforts to circumvent the built-in hardware and software security mechanisms, a practice informally known as soft modding.

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2001/nov01/11-14midnightmadnesspr.aspx
  3. ^ a b "Gamers Catch Their Breath as Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Reinvent Next-Generation Gaming". Microsoft. May 10, 2006. Archived from the original on June 21, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2009. 
  4. ^ Morris, Chris (May 9, 2006). "Grand Theft Auto, Halo 3 headed to Xbox 360". CNN. Retrieved July 16, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b Asher Moses (August 30, 2007). "Prepare for all-out war". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved July 16, 2008. Combined, the first two Halo games have notched up sales of more than 14.5 million copies so far, about 8 million of which can be attributed to Halo 2, which is the best-selling first-generation Xbox game worldwide. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Microsoft Ends Xbox Live for Original Xbox Games and Owners - Yahoo! Voices". voices.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  7. ^ "Xbox Live's Major Nelson » Xbox LIVE being discontinued for Original Xbox consoles and games :". Majornelson.com. 2010-04-15. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
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  10. ^ Dudley, Brier (May 24, 2011). "Exclusive: Microsoft loses last Xbox founder, mobile PC visionary". The Seattle Times (Seattle Times Co). Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved May 25, 2011. In 1998, Berkes and his team ordered a few Dell laptops, took them apart and built the first prototypes of a Windows gaming console. In order to appeal to young people, the name zBar (pronounced zed-BAH); laterm Ed Fries was leading Microsoft's games publishing business when the four Xbox founders pitched a "Direct X Box" based on the Windows DirectX graphics technology that was developed by Berkes' team. 
  11. ^ Alexander, Leigh (August 14, 2009). "Interview: Former Microsoft Exec Fries Talks Xbox's Genesis". Gamasutra. UBM TechWeb. Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved May 25, 2011. Direct X-Box, of course, was truncated to 'Xbox,' -- and "marketing hated the name," says Fries. "They went off and created this whole, long list of better names for the machine." In focus testing, the marketing team left the name 'Xbox' on that long list simply as a control, to demonstrate to everyone why it was a horrible name for a console. "Of course, 'Xbox' outscored, in focus testing, everything they came up with. They had to admit it was going to be the Xbox." 
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  51. ^ "Xbox dead in Japan?", GamesTM (Imagine Publishing) (1), December 2002: 11, ISSN 1478-5889, retrieved April 25, 2014, Xbox is failing in Japan, there's no denying it. Despite the country's fascination with America, it seems uneasy investing in a non- Japanese product; so far just 278,860 Xbox consoles have been sold, compared to almost 700,000 GameCubes during the same period. These embarrassing figures have resulted in Hirohisa Ohura, Director of Xbox Japan, being moved to a different department within Microsoft, hinting that a certain amount of re-structuring is about to take place. 
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External links[edit]