The magnificent Xbox we all know and love could have been very different. In a recent report with IGN, Xbox co-creator Ed Fries has revealed what the big wigs at Microsoft really thought about the original Xbox pitch.
The day is referred to at Microsoft as the ‘Valentine’s day massacre’ (Gates didn’t know about this title until recently), not to be confused with Al Capone’s Valentine’s Day massacre but by the sounds of it, equally as brutal.
Gates remained shut
At the time of Xbox’s conception there were in fact two teams working on a potential new console. Fries was pitching the idea that the new Xbox would be a ‘PC in disguise’ whilst the other team played it safe, looking to build another iteration of the Dreamcast.
We all know which idea made it through to fruition – thank goodness – but as it turns out, Bill Gates was not at all impressed with Fries' original Xbox pitch. Fries even went on to say that Gates was ‘insulted’ that it didn’t incorporate certain Microsoft ideologies.
See, Gates was under the impression that the console would incorporate a Windows operating system however; Fries and his team went with a new closed system design. This is something that Gates did not approve of.
So we go into the meeting and four o’clock Valentine’s Day–Bill walks in he’s holding a Powerpoint deck and yells, ‘This is the blanking insult to everything I’ve done at this company’ and that was the start, so we all looked at [Xbox director and designer J Allard] because we knew Bill’s mad about the no Windows thing, because we forgot to ‘pre-disaster’ him.
We know Fries got the go ahead, so what changed his mind?
In short, Sony. Apparently the team countered Gates’ comments with the fact that Sony had already done something similar to what they had proposed and it was proving to be a success. So much of a success that it already threatened the very existence of Microsoft. Armed with this newly acquired intelligence Gates apparently not only approved the idea but spared them unlimited Microsoft resources to get the job done.
Finally one of the observers at the meeting just raises his hand and says, ‘What about Sony?’ and he says, ‘Sony is slowly invading the living room with a processor here software there, they could be a threat to Microsoft.’ So Bill and Steve stop and look at each other and go, ‘Yeah…what about Sony?’ And so Bill turns and says, ‘I’m going to give you guys everything you want’ and Ballmer repeats the same thing. And I turn to Robbie and say, ‘That was the weirdest meeting I’ve ever been in.
And here we are, 2016 and Xbox and Sony are still butting heads, but what incredible systems each team have created. We are living in a golden age of technology and without brilliant stories like this we would still – apparently – be playing around on the Dreamcast.
But, before I go, remember that time The Rock & Bill Gates traded banter over the Xbox? Were going back to 2001when the Rock was still The Rock, not Dwayne’ The Rock’ Johnson.
The Rock and Gates stand shoulder to shoulder trading brilliant banter as they go through the new systems revolutionary hardware. This is a priceless moment in gaming history – as all Xbox fans will appreciate – this is the day our dreams became a reality. Enjoy.
Fifteen years on and we see the Xbox still making waves within the industry, the new Xbox One S is the latest unit to have been unveiled with promises of the most powerful console ever conceived arriving in 2017 in the form of the Scorpio. The future is definitely looking bright for the green gaming machine.
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