Microsoft has always been a PC software vendor since 1972, but in 2001 they also released their first console. They joined the console market at a pretty rough period, being around some high competition against Sony, Sega, and Nintendo.
Despite the everlasting competition and several drawbacks, the Xbox brand managed to become a household name in gaming, worldwide. Microsoft has sold over 150 million consoles since.
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Release Date: November 15, 2001
Code Name: DirectX Box
Release Price: $299
Units Sold: 24+ million (as of May 10, 2006)
Best-selling Game: Halo 2. 8 million
The original Xbox, Microsoft debuted in the home console gaming market, with a characteristic big size in black and green colors, was released on November 15, 2001. At the time, the sixth-generation console market was overwhelmed by PlayStation 2, GameCube and Dreamcast, leading Microsoft to rise through a very competitive marketplace, and people were wondering if the Xbox console would be an expensive mistake. They proved everyone wrong by selling 550,000 units of hardware in its first week.
The console’s prototype was put together at first as a side project, using Dell laptop parts and then Microsoft decided to redesign it. This led Xbox to use the PC’s x86 architecture, a build that was very rare for a console at the time. Microsoft engineers originally called the console “DirectX Box“, named after the DirectX graphics technology, that was developed for PC gaming and later was shortened to Xbox.
Xbox was the first console to have a built-in Ethernet port, combined with a broadband connection. It was the time were Xbox Live launched and Microsoft offered to players a unique, steady and reliable online experience, but only with a subscription.
One of the biggest hits for Xbox was Halo, a science fiction first-person shooter game, developed by Bungie, with smooth and balanced gameplay followed with its sequel in 2004 were more-than-enough reasons to buy an Xbox. Many other exclusive titles followed like Ninja Gaiden, Fable and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, which helped a lot the franchise to succeed.
Xbox 360 (2005)
Release Date: November 22, 2005
Code Name: Xenon
Release Price: $399
Units Sold: 84 million (as of June 9, 2014)
Best-selling Game: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, 14.23 million
The seventh-generation came in 2005, with Sega out of the hardware market, and now the market is all about the-all-known-three companies, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft. Each company released their consoles based on various strategies to attract the gamer.
The early builds of the Xbox 360 had many hardware failures caused by overheating. The three flashing red lights and the well known Red Ring of Death was a common inconvenience for the owners. These early models forced Microsoft to repair and replace every system and even extend the consoles’ warranties for all of the issues.
A series of massive exclusive hit titles like Crackdown, Gears of War, Dead Rising and Mass Effect helped to keep the people loyal on the console. The Xbox Live service and its subscription were expanded, redesigned and contained most of the Xbox 360’s console bundles, but the prices where aggressively high. That was a big disadvantage for Microsoft, especially when Sony announced that their players can enjoy the online experience without paying any subscription.
Microsoft redesigned Xbox 360’s hardware several times, alongside it with a bunch of peripherals like the redesigned wireless controller and headset followed by one of the biggest Microsoft’s releases, the Kinect. A device that is based on the webcam-style add-on peripheral, enabling users to control and interact with their console using gestures and voice commands.
Xbox 360 S (2010)
Release Date: June 14, 2010
Release Price: $299
On June 14, 2010, Microsoft released a new and redesigned slim model of Xbox 360. A slim, lighter and freshly looking design with a glossy black finish and a smaller power brick were more than enough for players to give a second chance on the Xbox 360 brand.
The S model was built with a more powerful processor and motherboard in order to reduce the hardware failures and thermals issues that the original Xbox 360 had. The console was replaced with physical power and eject buttons with touch-system and offered HD-DVD drive, Ethernet, WiFi connection and two additional USB ports.
Xbox 360 E (2013)
Release Date: June 10, 2013
Release Price: $199
The last version of Xbox 360 was released by Microsoft on June 10 of 2013. The Xbox 360 E was slightly smaller, lighter and quieter than the S model, and it was built for players who were unwilling to spend money for the upcoming Xbox One. The design is similar to the Xbox One console with its inter-cooler design, the black matte color, and the gloss finish.
The designers rolled back to the physical power and eject buttons and removed the AV connector making it an HDMI only video connection. The Xbox 360 E model also offered two USB ports, Ethernet, WiFi support and a Kinect port.
Xbox One (2013)
Release Date: November 22, 2013
Code Name: Durango
Release Price: $499
Units Sold: 39.1 million (as of March, 2018)
Best-selling Game: Call of Duty: Black Ops III, 7.24 million (as of October 16, 2016)
On November 22 of 2013, Microsoft released the next Xbox console that introduced us to the next generation. The Xbox One was promoted by Microsoft with an increasing emphasis on the Kinect system, and television integration within the built-in apps and voice commands.
The Xbox One rolled back to the PC’s x86 architecture set, using AMD’S custom Jaguar accelerated processing unit, which features two quad-core modules capped at 1.75GHz. The system uses AMD’s Radeon HD 7000 series graphics card in order to be capable of running at 4K resolution with 7.1 surround sound. The console is also able to monitor internal temperatures and adjusting the cooling where necessary.
In June 2015, Microsoft offered to the players backward compatibility with numerous Xbox 360 titles via software emulation. As of the Xbox original titles, in 2017 at E3 Microsoft announced that the Xbox One will support them as well.
Some of the best exclusive titles of Xbox One that kept the sale numbers high at the time was Titanfall, Dead Rising 3 and Forza Motorsport 5. As of today, the Xbox One is still second in place with 40 million consoles sold behind Sony’s PS4, which has shipped over 90 million consoles worldwide.
Xbox One S (2016)
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Release Price: $299
Units Sold: N/A
The Xbox One S was released on August 2, 2016. The console was redesigned to be 40% smaller than any previous model without having a power brick. With a white aesthetic look coupled with minimal black accents, physical power, and eject buttons.
The Xbox One S adds the high-dynamic range (HDR) support in the system for TV streaming and not for gaming along with a 4K Blu-ray drive. The console runs the games up-scaled to 4K but it’s not giving the true 4K detailed experience as the Xbox One X does. The console’s GPU received a 70% boost up to 914MHz and hard drive sizes moved up to 1 and 2TB.
A new controller came with the release of the Xbox One S console with a new extended Bluetooth support and a textured grip for comfy handle. In 2017 the Xbox Design Lab came up on the Xbox official site which allows you to create and customize a controller with the design and colors of your own taste.
While the Kinect made a huge success on the Xbox 360 consoles, the numbers fell down dramatically over the years. Microsoft decided to stop manufacturing Kinect back in October of 2017.
Xbox One X (2017)
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Code name: Scorpio
Release Price: $499
Units Sold: N/A
The Xbox One X was released on November 7 of 2017. This is the first Xbox console that offers a realistic 4K gaming, running on 60 FPS, being capable of delivering six teraflops of performance and still run the same games and software as the already existing Xbox One systems do.
In terms of design, the Xbox One X has a slick minimal design with pure matte black color, looking similar to the Xbox One S but a lot smaller making it the smallest Xbox console ever released. The console uses an 8 core AMD processor at 2.3GHz and a 12GB of shared GDDR5 Ram. As for its GPU, AMD’s Radeon graphics card is used again with the Polaris architecture, capped at 1172MHz.
The console was made for 4K enthusiasts, with its high-end specs and what’s its capable of, but Microsoft made it clear that the Xbox One X is able to expand gaming for those who don’t own ultra high definition displays too. The console has also backward compatibility with all the Xbox One titles ever released.