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Why Microsoft Embraced Gaming 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the something-about-extending-and-i-forget dept.
wjousts writes "A interesting take on the birth of the Xbox from Technology Review: 'When the original Xbox video-game console went on sale in 2001, it wasn't clear why Microsoft, known for staid workplace software, was branching out into fast-paced action games. But Microsoft decided that capitalizing on the popularity of gaming could help the company position itself for the coming wave of home digital entertainment. "Microsoft saw the writing on the wall," says David Dennis, a spokesman for Xbox. "It wanted to have a beachhead in the living room." ... Now Microsoft is linking Xbox 360, its most successful consumer-focused brand, with others that have not been as well received. It is integrating Bing, its search engine, into Xbox and Xbox Live to enable people to search for multimedia content. By the end of the year, Microsoft is expected to unveil an updated Xbox Live design that is more in line with the look of Windows phones and the forthcoming Windows 8.'"
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Why Microsoft Embraced Gaming

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  • The last thing Microsoft wants is for people to find out or realize that you can do "computery" things without a computer running one of their operating systems. It's why they had shills in the late 80's early 90's saying: "Hey, don't buy an Amiga or ST, because you'll need to bring home work from the office and those machines don't use the "industry standard" software".

    Or when Microsoft bought WebTV, which allowed people to send e-mail, use USENET, IRC chat, and view webpages on a consumer oriented piece of hardware that hooked up to the TV and didn't run Windows, and then let it languish.

    Sega, Sony and Nintendo probably scared Microsoft silly when their hardware became capable of running PC style games without being cut down so much Sega's netlink and Sony's prototype PSone modem probably gave them the impetus for entering the market. "If we don't enter their makret, they'll eventually enter ours and make game consoles that people can use to browse the net." Sony's use of Linux tools for developing probably gave them fits as well.

    And think of the PS2...acknowledged capable of running Linux from the start, with a slot for a hard drive and networking, and USB ports. Microsoft knew that Cony could do some kind of "web kiosk" software for the PS2 any time they wanted to, or worse, do a general release of the Linux kit. SCEE apparently had a "Live" version of the distro in the Linux kit that they tested out. Let's also not forget the Japan only release of the BBN software which let Japanese PS2 owners do a lot of stuff that we Americans only got to do upon release of the PS3.

    Then came the PS3...which at one time, ran Linux out of the box, all you needed was install media. And there was at one time a plan to install it by default on all PS3's alongside GameOS. The PS3 also does media, and has a built in web browser, and support for downloadable apps (though Sony didn't add an "app" section to the PSN store till recently). That thing was Microsoft's worst nightmare come to life. Who needs Windows to play complex games? Who needs Windows just to visit facebook.

    So Microsoft has to stay in the market just to keep Sony and/or Nintendo off balance enough to prevent them from getting any more ideas.

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