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  • - Hey guys, this is Austin

  • and welcome to the ultimate Xbox comparison.

  • - When I started here back in 2000,

  • the most recent console that we were all playing

  • was Dreamcast, we got it on 9/9/99.

  • In many ways, that was there's a lot of special spiritual

  • connections between the Dreamcast and original Xbox.

  • You know, it ran actually Windows CE as an operating system.

  • We had partnered with a lot of the folks at Sega

  • to bring a lot of that content also to Xbox

  • and we were learning a lot from them.

  • - [Distorted Voice] Its thinking.

  • - The Sega Dreamcast was the first time

  • that a version of Windows was found on a home console.

  • The inclusion of Windows CE meant that developers

  • had options for much more advanced

  • development tools from the PC such as DirectX.

  • The problem here was the Sega

  • had their own custom development tool

  • which in a lot of ways actually made it much simpler

  • for developers to take advantage of the limited resources

  • that were available on the Dreamcast.

  • The titles that did take advantage

  • of Windows CE were pretty cool though.

  • We're talking Tomb Raider,

  • the original Rainbow Six as well as Resident Evil II.

  • The Dreamcast didn't exactly set the world on fire,

  • however, it did plant the seed of an idea over Microsoft

  • to start their own console business.

  • Despite having high profile PC exclusives

  • such as Age of Empires as well

  • as Microsoft Flight Simulator,

  • Bill Gates was nervous about the upcoming success

  • or potential success rather of the Sony PlayStation 2.

  • (upbeat music)

  • When Seamus Blackley, a graphics programmer at Microsoft

  • approached gates about an idea for their own console,

  • it was very quickly greenlit.

  • Blackley led a small group of people at Microsoft in 1998

  • to start working on the Midway Project,

  • which fun fact was named after the Battle of Midway

  • with US decisively beat the Japanese, aka console wars.

  • - Well, there was a small group of folks

  • that have this like big idea that had worked

  • on DirectX technology on the PC side

  • and said, hey, what if we took this technology

  • and Microsoft had made a bunch of PC games,

  • so we took that technology and we built it

  • into a plug and play kind of appliance

  • like console for the living room.

  • And we felt like we had the tech,

  • we have the operating system capabilities,

  • we had the online networking capabilities,

  • we actually had game studio,

  • so we had a lot of the internal gradients to make it happen.

  • - Other PC tech including using an internal hard drive,

  • something that hadn't been done on consoles yet,

  • as well as taking advantage of an internet connection

  • which would work right out of the box.

  • In the end, Microsoft opted to load

  • the Xbox up with a custom version

  • of Windows 2000 for the operating system

  • as well as running DirectX for the actual games themselves.

  • Now the DirectX portion of this

  • actually is a pretty important point.

  • So not only did this have a ton of different names

  • when it was being developed,

  • but the most common one was the DirectX Box,

  • which of course was shortened to Xbox, a much cleaner name.

  • The Xbox was officially announced at GDC in March of 2000,

  • coincidentally about the same time

  • that the Sony PlayStation II went on sale in Japan.

  • With that console quickly looking to become a juggernaut,

  • there was a huge uphill battle for the Xbox to go.

  • I mean it's sure of course you know

  • it's Microsoft and it is huge company,

  • but its easy to forget not only just how difficult

  • and expensive it is to create a console,

  • but of course, how expensive it is to spend

  • all this marketing dollars and all this stuff

  • to get people on board to actually buy your brand new Xbox.

  • To combat this, Microsoft aggressively marketed

  • the Xbox in the run up to E3 of 2000.

  • Now at the show there they met a developer

  • which would end up completely

  • changing the future of the Xbox, it was Bungie.

  • And very quickly they purchased the studio for $30 million

  • and the Xbox had its killer app.

  • Now Bungie had been working on Halo since 1997

  • and it had a very, very long lifespan

  • to get to the point where it actually launched on the Xbox.

  • First of all it started out as a real time strategy game,

  • which then morphed into a third person shooter

  • and finally landed as a first person shooter,

  • which of course really kind of revolutionized the genre.

  • Now of course today Halo is synonymous with Xbox

  • but back in 1999, it was good old Steve Jobs at Macworld

  • who was showing off the brand new Bungie title Halo.

  • - This game is gonna ship early next year for Bungie

  • and this is the first time anybody has ever seen it,

  • its the first time they debut it,

  • and so I'm very happy to welcome on stage

  • Jason Jones, who is the co founder of Bungie

  • and the Halo Project lead, Halo's the name of the game,

  • and we're gonna see for the first time Halo.

  • - Halo was originally going to be a Mac title,

  • and in fact, it did actually ship on the Mac

  • but even though this version was a little bit rough,

  • you can still see a lot of similarities between this

  • and the final version was shipped on Xbox.

  • Bill Gates revealed the final Xbox design at CES in 2001

  • and he didn't do it alone,

  • he had a little bit of help from The Rock.

  • And no, not like The Rock as we know him today,

  • I'm talking The Rock in full character,

  • because 2001 was a really weird time.

  • - Good morning, and Bill Gates,

  • you have some pretty cool catch phrases as well.

  • What are some of your favorite?

  • - My favorite is probably writing

  • hardcore C to create slick type code.

  • (audience laughing)

  • - The Xbox officially went on sale

  • at midnight on November 15 2001 here in the United States

  • and it followed up in early 2002 in other parts of the world

  • such as Europe as well as Asia.

  • And it didn't exactly will catch on

  • anywhere else around the world.

  • By the end of its lifecycle,

  • the Xbox had only sold a mere 450,000 units in Japan

  • and only about 2 million in the entire Asia Pacific region.

  • That was a massive failure,

  • although it did perform a little bit better in Europe

  • where they sold a grand total of around 6 million Xboxes.

  • Halo really is the reason that they sold the Xbox at all.

  • In the first few months of being on sale,

  • they sold over 1 million copies of Halo,

  • which is a lot especially by 2001 standards.

  • - You know, the team had a big vision

  • and had a lot of crazy ideas,

  • and it was just fun to like kind of figure out

  • how do we pull that all off and then content.

  • I remember when we first showed Halo

  • for the first time at E3, original Halo Combat Evolved,

  • people were kind of like, I'm not sure,

  • I mean, first person shooters

  • really hadn't existed with a controller

  • and mapping the keyboard and mouse controllers

  • to a controller was a new thing,

  • people took a little while to get used to it,

  • but then as soon as we launched,

  • it was clear that we had something special

  • and but not only did Halo take off

  • but then we launched Xbox Live the next holiday,

  • it really took off from there.

  • (intense music)

  • - Less than a year after release,

  • Microsoft did give the Xbox a price cut

  • going from $300 down to 200.

  • Now this meant that they could

  • better compete with the GameCube

  • as well as hopefully with the PlayStation 2

  • but it did mean that Microsoft

  • was selling the console at loss,

  • and at the end of the day, no console of this generation

  • could even come close to the kind of sales numbers

  • of the PlayStation 2 set down.

  • Inside, the Xbox was very clearly

  • the most powerful console of this generation

  • and that is almost entirely due to the fact