Microsoft Releases Xbox in North America

The Xbox is a sixth-generation video game console produced by Microsoft.

It was Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console market, and competed with Sony's PlayStation 2, Sega's Dreamcast, and Nintendo's GameCube. The integrated Xbox Live service allows players to compete online.

The Xbox was released on November 15, 2001 in North America, February 22, 2002 in Japan, and March 14, 2002 in Australia and Europe. It is the predecessor to Microsoft's Xbox 360 console. It was discontinued in late 2006, although the final Xbox game (Madden NFL 09) was released in August 2008. Support for out-of-warranty Xbox consoles was discontinued on March 2, 2009, although in-warranty repairs will still be done.

The Xbox was Microsoft's first product that ventured into the video game console market, after having collaborated with Sega in porting Windows CE to the Dreamcast console. The Xbox first edition was initially developed by a small Microsoft team, that included game developer Seamus Blackley. Microsoft repeatedly delayed the console, which was revealed at the end of 1999 following interviews of then-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. Gates stated that a gaming/multimedia device was essential for multimedia convergence in the new times, confirmed by Microsoft with a press release.[4] A certain amount of excitement surrounded the announcement of Xbox. When Bill Gates unveiled it at the Game Developers Conference in 2000, audiences were dazzled by the console's amazing technology. At the time that Gates made the announcement, Sega's Dreamcast was diminishing and Sony's PlayStation 2 was just hitting the streets in Japan.[5]

Microsoft made a few crucial errors at the launch of Xbox, most notably in its efforts to impress Japanese consumers. Seeing the importance of a good showing in Japan, Microsoft went hard after the Japanese market, delaying its European launch. Europe was unquestionably the more receptive market.[5] Two of the original members of the Xbox team, Seamus Blackley and Kevin Bachus, left the company early on. The other founding members, Otto Berkes and Ted Hase, are still with Microsoft, but no longer working on the Xbox project. But Microsoft also made some shrewd decisions. In preparation for its launch, Microsoft acquired Bungie and used Halo: Combat Evolved as its launch title. At the time, Goldeneye 007, for Nintendo 64, had been one of the very few hit FPS games to appear on a console, some of other ones being Perfect Dark and Medal of Honor. The Bungie acquisition proved itself, giving Microsoft a good application to drive its sales.[5] In 2002, Xbox reached one milestone that few people would have predicted when Microsoft overtook Nintendo to capture the second place slot in consoles sold in North America.

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

In November 2002 Microsoft released the Xbox Live on-line gaming service, allowing subscribers to play on-line Xbox games with (or against) other subscribers all around the world and download new content for their games to the hard drive. This on-line service works exclusively with broadband. 250,000 subscribers had signed on in 2 months since Live was launched. In July 2004, Microsoft announced that Xbox Live reached 1 million subscribers, and announced in July 2005 that Live had reached 2 million.