Microsoft’s Xbox console turns 10 years old

By Tom Warren, on 15th Nov 11 8:16 am with 35 Comments

10 years of Xbox

Microsoft’s Xbox console came to life on November 15, exactly 10 years ago.

The original Xbox launched in the U.S. initially before heading to European, Australian and Japanese markets in early 2002. The Xbox marked Microsoft’s first entry into the console market and went head to head with Sony’s PlayStation 2, Sega’s Dreamcast and Nintendo’s GameCube consoles. The Xbox was made up of a rather large unit emblazoned with an X. The Xbox was based on PC hardware and featured a DVD-ROM drive and a 8 or 10GB 3.5-inch hard drive. The system featured a 733MHz Intel Pentium III processor alongside 64MB of RAM and a 233MHz NVIDIA graphics card. Microsoft also opted to run the Xbox using a custom operating system, built from the Windows 2000 kernel.

The launch of the Xbox saw the introduction of Halo, a massively popular first person shooter that still exists today. The original Halo release was the most successful launch game for Xbox and Halo 2, the sequel, is the best-selling Xbox game worldwide. Microsoft followed up its November 15 launch in 2001 by launching Xbox LIVE a year later on November 15, 2002. The service propelled Microsoft’s Xbox console into the mainstream. Around 250,000 people signed up for the service within two months of its launch. Xbox LIVE reached one million subscribers by July 2004 and two million in July 2005.

Microsoft unveiled its successor to the Xbox, the Xbox 360, during an MTV show on May 12, 2005. The console went on sale on November 22, 2005 in the U.S. and Canada. The Xbox 360 then launched in Europe on December 2 and December 10 for Japan. The console launched in other international markets and was made available in 36 countries during its first year launch. The Xbox 360 sold out in all regions at launch apart from Japan. The original Xbox 360 “core” featured a matte white finish, wired controller and no HDD storage. Microsoft also launched a “Pro” offering initially that featured a 20GB HDD, wireless controller, wired headset and ethernet port. The original console hardware has since been replaced and restyled. Microsoft now offers an S model with 320GB HDD, HDMI port, transforming d-pad controllers and Gears of War 3, Modern Warfare 3 or Star Wars branding.

Microsoft has kept its Xbox brand, hardware and software fresh over the years. The company launched its controller-less console accessory for the Xbox 360 across the world in November. The Kinect sensor is a horizontal bar that sits at the base of your TV. The device has an RGB camera, depth sensor and multi-array microphone which runs proprietary software. Kinect allows for full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition, and voice recognition. Owners will be able to interact with games titles using just their body. Pausing TV and fast forwarding movies can be achieved using a mix of hand movements and voice control.

Microsoft’s Kinect sensor has been a phenomenal success story for the company. The console accessory sold out across a number of retailers during last year’s festive season and Microsoft smashed its own estimates of 5 million units in 2010 by shipping 10 million devices. Microsoft’s Kinect accessory has also broken a Guinness World Record. Guinness World Records officially named Kinect for Xbox 360 the fastest-selling consumer electronics device, which sold an average of 133,333 units per day for a total of eight million units in its first 60 days between November 4, 2010 and January 3, 2011.

The future of Xbox is largely full of rumors at this stage. The software giant is expected to announce a new Xbox console next year, based on Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Microsoft is also readying a dashboard update for existing consoles. Microsoft started to push beta copies of the Xbox 360 fall dashboard update out to testers on Thursday. The November dashboard update will bring Microsoft’s Metro style interface to the Xbox. Microsoft is also preparing to include YouTube and Bing on the Xbox. Bing users will be able to use Kinect’s voice recognition feature to search for movies, music and other content on their consoles. The new dashboard will also enable Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone integration with Xbox, see a video demonstration here.

With soaring sales, the Xbox doesn’t look like it’s a brand that consumers are willing to stop buying into anytime soon. Microsoft now has a unique opportunity to position its Windows and Windows Phone products around the Xbox brand to win back consumer popularity. If the past 10 years are anything to go by then the next 10 years will be an interesting time for mobile, PC and Xbox gamers. Happy Birthday Xbox.

  • Scott Wallace

    Good job Microsoft for making an excellent product! 
    And happy birthday Xbox! 

  • Jubbin Grewal

    The original wasn’t that great, but the 360 is quite good. Awesome work, can’t wait for the 720.

  • AlienSix

    Wow that is hard to believe, I remember getting the original Xbox for Christmas, hard to believe that 10 years have passed, Im 21 now :p

  • Wemberg Carlo Estil

    Happy birthday Xbox!! U started out the same way as Wp7, with a Sh*T load of criticisim but turns out to be the greatest console in history. Congrats to Microsoft! Congrats to Steve Balmer!!

    • Jean-Philippe Delisle

      “ turns out to be the greatest console in history”… the SNES was the best one. Super Mario World, Zelda: Link to the Past, FF IV-VI, Street Fighter 2, Mario Kart, Mortal Kombat, Donkey Kong 1-3, Star Fox… The Xbox brand is the best AT THE MOMENT, but it didn’t define the history like the NES/SNES.

    • Anonymous

      Except for the whole online system. It only redefined gaming as we knew it. Nothing big. /s

    • Anonymous

      Saving the Industry in far more important than Online which is still a big contribution.  Was born in 92 and my first real console was the N64/GC but im hardpressed not to say that the Snes was the best system with the DS and 360 close behind. 

    • Anonymous


      Nintendo saving the industry was more of a result of a perfect storm rather than just Nintendo being great. They walked into a situation that was a once in lifetime opportunity and a company’s worst nightmare. I will give Nintendo all the credit in the world for having the guts to take a chance and market the NES in the US, but it easily could have been a resounding failure.

      It’s something to recognize them for, but you have to take the entire situation into account.

  • joomla web development

    Other than USA Sony play station is more popular in other corners of the world they should work on there marketing more.

    • Anonymous

      Kind of Hard to do. Xbox owns the US, sony has europe, and nintendo has the Japan vote.

  • Hi

    Happy B-Day Xbox!

  • Anonymous

    Happy Bday Xbox(360)…
    Glad to never have switched to Playstation despite Singstar and BluRay support…
    But PLEASE stop US/UK-only services like Bing (still Beta in Germany) – I can see why there’s no MusicPass, but Bing!?!?

  • Anonymous

    the pic is missing the Original Xbox with the “Fatty” controller

    • Karl Cramer

      The Duke.

    • Sniperboy

      Ha, ha!  I love that nickname for these old controllers.

    • Anonymous

      I’m going to track one of those down just for nostalgia’s sake.

  • Tony

    Happy birthday xbox! This is a testament to how Microsoft can turn a product into something great. I hope WP7 becomes just as successful even from its humble beginnings. 

  • Penta2100

    If XBOX had free online I would immediatly switch from PS3 to XBOX considering the new dashboard update.
     From  a PS# satisfied customer/ love

    • Penta2100

      PS3. my bad

    • ZipZapRap

      Just ask your parents for more pocket money..

    • Noonehere2011

      PS online is free because it is still lame console among xbox and wii

    • Nguyen Ngoc Hung

      Agree. Consider Xbox LIVE is coming to Windows 8, I believe MS should make some Gold member’s features available for all for free :D

    • Anonymous

      If you check Ben’s Bargains, you can frequently find Gold memberships for $40 per year.  If you buy DLC stuff during their weekly Gold membership sales, you can make a lot of that $40 back.

    • Anonymous

      MS itself even provides offers now and then. I got a 2 years from them for $80.

  • Jubbin Grewal

    Xbox is 10 years old today.. get it while it’s still cute and before it enters it’s rebel teen years.

  • James Matthews

    Xbox and MS for the win.

  • ZipZapRap

    Happy birthday Xbox :)

    Tom, you need to update that picture.. the current Xbox is sold as matte :)

  • Karl Cramer

    Remember what a crazy concept it was for a games system to have a hard drive? That green Matrix dashboard makes me nostalgic.

  • BigChiefSmokem

    X Marks the Spot

  • Lewis McCrary

    Nice pic of the progression of the consoles.  Latest one is just dead sexy.

  • Anonymous

    awesome run for the xbox. all the naysayers that keep dooming windows phone should learn a valuable lesson: it doesn’t matter if you have a lead like sony did with the ps2, everything can change in a matter of years in the tech world regardless of just how entrenched a player is. Android’s future simply hangs by a thread and just as the mighty playstation, once seemed invincible and the thought of a microsoft console defeating it ridiculous, well, well, we now know just how silly that way of thinking was.

    If anything, when MSFT chooses to fight with all it has got, it may not turn results inmediatelly, but longterm they are destined to succeed by simply outlasting the naysayers and not quitting.

  • Jay Swanson

    To think of all the kids yelling homophobic slurs on MW3 today who weren’t even alive when the first Xbox came out.

  • Eike Haussig

    and? where your dashboard update …? xD

    • Anonymous

      I’ve got it.

  • Online Póker

    I have every console currently, and I have to say my xbox has brought me more joy, fun, and rage than any other console currently out. Xbox live alone makes the 360 king. <3 m$