Not just Apple I: Microsoft and the Xbox.

Welcome to the new biweekly section of SamaGame. The leitmotiv of these articles will be to expand the perspective of the general theme of the blog a little further, which is none other than Apple and its ecosystem, and above all, our beloved iPad. It seems as if the rest of the world has not had its own history and influence in the technological world, and obviously, it does not. Apple has undoubtedly been an engine that has indisputably driven the industry, but we must also remind everyone of those who, in the past or currently, have also given part of their originality or inventiveness to the modern world in which we live. This section will appear at 9:41 am pacific time as our section «One More Jobs» (click here to find out why).

In this first chapter we will talk about a little-known story that will sound familiar to many but that few know in depth. MicrosoftAs we know, it is an extremely important company in the field of information technology development, since its inception. His hand and influence has spread throughout all that we call “personal computer”, both on PC and Mac, and even other platforms, this company being its top leader until a few years ago, Bill Gates, two of the most important phenomena up to now. But undoubtedly one of the least known stories about him (and they have several) is the development of the Xbox and Microsoft’s true objectives with this console, which were not, at least not exclusively, that it was a gaming machine.

To understand the Xbox, we have to go back in time, oddly enough, to a couple of years ago, when Microsoft (or rather Ballmer), desperate to gain a foothold in the world of smartphones, “made the cobra” to Nokia acquiring its mobile division, to later, in a movement that not long ago was recognized as a failure, becoming the total and complete purchase of Nokia, except for businesses related to paper, household appliances, etc… The same movement that about 20 years ago years he did to Sega. Only this time it went wrong. But we are going to explain what happened back then and how things turned out in many strange ways.

Not just Apple I: Microsoft and the Xbox

Back in the mid-nineties, everyone was crazy about the new consoles. Nintendo it was the queen during the 90s still with the SNES and the Gamecube had a certain success; Y sony it had embarked on its own movement, making the fall for Nintendo in turn by releasing the PlayStation 1 (revenge, more like). The cumbersome details of these slum strategies I keep to myself because I want to focus on the protagonist of the article, which is the Xbox. Microsoft was nervous because they saw a big business in games, which was true, and that they were late (what a surprise), so they decided that it was best to ally with someone important in the market at the time, like Sega. Sega was preparing its own next-generation console, the Dreamcast, and Microsoft contacted them to develop, a priori, the operating system for a console, perhaps the same one they were developing. At Sega they were keen to collaborate with them, and when the matter, in the late 1990s, was practically finished, Microsoft canceled the project. So, for good. They took all the designs, developments, and hardware, and about two years later, in 2001, they released the original Xbox, which the good guys at Sega had pretty much built. The problem for Sega is that this diverted them from their main objective, which was the development and marketing of the Dreamcast, a very advanced console for its time, which led to technical ruin a few years later. Currently, they survive as soldiers of fortune… I mean as game programmers, which they have always been very good at. But its collaboration with Microsoft was its misfortune, and the real reason for its demise as a console company, which suited Nintendo and Sony, on the other hand, very well.

The point is that Microsoft had no real intention of moving the console forward at that time. Bill Gates wanted a salon system based on Windows Xp (which would appear around those dates), but those who continued the development of the console after the mess with Sega said that Chinese oranges: the system was already developed and no changes were going to be made, among other things, because as it was , it was great. Gates, as he used to do, bounced up to stitches, because at that time Sony was already preparing the release of the Playstation 2 and suddenly, they began to rush, as they always do when they don’t see them coming. So, in 1999 they decided to announce that they were working on a console and in 2000, they officially announced that they were going to release a console (these people have always worked like this). In 2001, the Xbox came on the market, which was basically the same console that Sega designed with mixed software from Microsoft. sold 24 million unitsfew compared to the 155 million of units sold by Sony of the Play 2, but it was shown that it could be a viable console with a future.

Not just Apple I: Microsoft and the Xbox

The second version, the Xbox 360, sold over 85 million units, a complete success, but it was still a problem for Bill Gates: it had a PowerPC as a processor (the same chips that Macs had at that time until Jobs decided to migrate to Intel), and of course, Windows only ran on x86, so his quest for a home computer system was once again sidetracked by technical decisions. This made Gates even more angry, who was passing the rice and saw that things did not end up going as he wanted. And how were those things? What had to happen? For this we have to go back some 20 years, when computing was still in its infancy and everything was ideas and concepts more than facts. For Gates, the business was that each citizen of the world had a computer in his house. They made the standard PC operating system (MS-DOS) and were literally breaking into every home and office on the planet. But it didn’t take long for him to realize something important: they didn’t control the hardware. He was doing well that way, but next door (to say the least, since they’re on the other side of the West Coast) was Apple, which controlled both aspects of the business, and it was doing very well. That was the thorn that stuck in Gates. When they entered into negotiations with Sega in the mid-nineties, the lightbulb went on to move from PCs to control hardware that could be fundamentally the next step in the computer world for him: the game console, not only as an environment for casual entertainment but as a true computer center of the house, for all the members of the same, directly to the television. And they would control the system through Windows. When they saw that Sega was not going to use Windows (although they practically designed what would later be DirectX), the project was suddenly taken from them, leaving them with eyes like cold soup plates, and a span of noses. Later, imbued with the rush for the release of the Play 2, they released the original Xbox almost as is, and then (about four years later), the Xbox 360 with obvious changes but without including Windows again, because there was no central strategy in that regard.

The Xbox One it is, supposedly, Gates’ compensation after so many years. In fact, the announcement that it will be upgradeable to Windows 10 He left all his fans wanting more. But for now it is just that, a promise. Xbox One had to be the definitive console that is not taking flight, nor is the Play 4, mainly due to compatibility problems with previous games and the many problems of online gaming, the stinginess of Microsoft and Sony, etc. … The dream of consoles as centers of the living room of the house is fading, at least for these two big companies. Apple announced last week the Apple TV 4, which we have already talked about these days ago and which has the potential, thanks to its ecosystem of apps, to become that home entertainment center that these companies have dreamed of for the last 20 years. The problem, as always, is one of concept: sell a product, provide a service, and do it brilliantly. These lessons that Apple constantly teaches but the rest of the industry seems to refuse to learn year after year.

Not just Apple I: Microsoft and the Xbox