Microsoft worked hard to make Windows 95, its next operating system at the time, a haven for PC gamers almost 20 years ago. With the great turnout it had for Doom and Quake, most thought that DOS was the best way to go for gaming.
Turning The Tides
Microsofts made their next creation to help game developers develop a better working relationship with Windows, they made a set of APIs or application programming interfaces called DirectX. In 1995, it made its appearance as the Windows Games Software Development Kits, or SDK, which became fundamental to Windows 95 OSR2 and Windows NT. Though developers were wary, believing that the Windows platform was untrustworthy. To help sway the masses, in 1996 Microsoft threw a conference with a Roman theme for game developers to try to change their minds.
The conference definitely had the effect that they wanted, it didn’t take long for Microsoft to decide that they wanted to build a game console around DirectX by 1998. The console creating team was made up of four of the men that helped with the making of DirectX. They decided to call the new console the DirectX Box. Microsofts decision to make the console was a surprise due to their usual involvement in software rather than hardware and, due to the last American created gaming console sold, Atari Jaguar, being crushed by the competition, Sony PlayStation, and Sega Saturn, in 1995 it was also pretty brave.
Attempting to mimic and crush the competition at their own game was Microsoft’s go-to strategy, and this time was no exception.
This time around they were after Sony, who was set to release the PlayStation 2 in March 1999. Upside got a quote from bill gates after asking him about Sonys Sega Saturn, “Our game designer likes the Sony machine.”
A New Console
Kevin Bachus, Seamus Blackley, Ted Hase, and Otto Berkes made up a four-man team to work on the DirectX Box. They started construction on the new console by disassembling Dell laptops. Ed Fries, the head of Microsofts game publishing division, eventually got on board with the idea of the console. After market testing didn’t go so well they change the name from DirectX Box to Xbox, by 1999 gates talked constantly about it.
The PS2 was available in Japan and the Sage Dreamcast was faltering by March 2000. Gates made the official announcement of the Xbox console release at the Game Developers Conference in the same month, even though the box itself wouldn’t be available to the public for 18 more months.
A Secret Weapon
Microsoft already had a secret weapon before they even released the XBox, an app, a game that would keep gamers coming back. In 1999 Bungie Studios shook the game industry with Halo. In July at Macworld, Steve Jobs showed off the game. Knowing Halo was going to put someone on the map, Microsoft bought Bungie Studios in June and Halo became an Xbox exclusive.
A Proper Launch
In January 2001 Bill Gates and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson properly showed off the Xbox for the first time at CES. By November 14 the official launch was held in Times Square by Toys R Us, where Gates made an appearance.
Hitting the Stores
The next day the Xbox hit the shelves along with Halo. Selling 150 million units across the world, Sony’s PlayStation was quickly becoming the best-selling console of all time. While they did sell a million units inside of three weeks, the Xbox didn’t do as well as the PlayStation.
Sony’s PlayStation 2 was on its way to becoming the biggest selling console of all time, moving 150 million units worldwide. The Xbox didn’t do as well, but it did sell a million units in three weeks.
There were a few firsts made by Xbox.
1.Fist console with a hard drive.
2.First with the ability to rip music from CDs.
3.First with real-time Dolby Digital Sound.
The End of a Console
The only thing that it lacked was the online gameplay, but that was quick to come. In November 2002 Xbox live arrived along with a starter kit to get gamers into multiplayer gaming. The original Xbox came to an end for Japan in 2007 and ended in North America in early 2009 with about 24 million sold.