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Games Hardware

Why Microsoft Got Into the Console Business 257

Posted by samzenpus
from the origin-story dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Joachim Kempin, former vice president of Windows Sales, has explained how the original Xbox came to be. It turns out it was Sony's fault, simply because the Japanese company wasn't very friendly towards Microsoft, and Microsoft eventually decided they had to 'stop Sony.' Apparently, long before the Xbox was even an idea, Microsoft was trying to collaborate with Sony in a number of areas they thought there was overlap. That collaboration was sought before even Sony had a games console coming to market, and would have focused on products for the entertainment sector."
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Why Microsoft Got Into the Console Business

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  • Oh the irony. (Score:5, Informative)

    by dadelbunts (1727498) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:17PM (#42816481)
    Thats hilarious, because the playstation originally came about from sony and nintendo trying to partner up, and nintendo breaking the deal because of arguments about money. Sony was so mad they created the playstation to rival nintendo.
  • by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:27PM (#42816553) Homepage Journal

    On the other hand, Nintendo made its own worst enemy by dropping out of the "Play Station" (with a space) partnership with Sony to make a CD-ROM drive. The Play Station would have plugged into the clock port on the bottom of the Super NES using the HANDS protocol (Nintendo's version of Blast Processing). The trouble is that HANDS couldn't copy information directly into video memory; instead, it had to be bounced off the CPU's memory, and that couldn't be done full-screen at a solid 30 fps. So Nintendo dumped Sony for Philips CD-i, and Sony began the PS-X (PlayStation Experiment) project to rework what it had left into a stand-alone console.

    In the Harry Potter universe, on the other hand, it might be the case that the Play Station accessory for Super NES came out on schedule, which explains Dudley Dursley having a Play Station in mid-1994 rather than the real-world release date of the late third quarter of 1995.

  • by rwyoder (759998) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:35PM (#42816609)

    I think Sony made the right decision there. If Microsoft approached me about "co-operating" I wouldn't touch them with a 10 foot pole. Look how well it worked out for IBM (with MS-DOS and OS/2) or Sun (with Java).

    Add Robert Metcalfe and 3Com. Here is a video clip from the documentary "Nerds 2.0.1" where he is talking about how M$ f***ed them over: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaCFHuVZAU0&t=4m [youtube.com]

  • by samkass (174571) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @12:06AM (#42817121) Homepage Journal

    It's true, and I think it first really hit home with most people when Business Insider posted their "Microsoft Operating Profit By Division [businessinsider.com]" chart about 3 years ago. Since then the XBox group has had some profitable quarters and some losses (a big one last spring), but is still down a couple billion. If you're "genuinely interested" in the exact amount, just open Excel and type in the numbers from all of Microsoft's quarterly reports for the last decade to get an exact amount-- the numbers aren't secret.

  • Re:Dreamcast (Score:5, Informative)

    by _Ludwig (86077) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @12:09AM (#42817141) Journal

    They worked with Sega on an operating system for the Dreamcast, based on Windows CE. According to this list [dcemu.co.uk], only 48 of the 688 commercially-released DC games used it.

  • Re:Oh the irony. (Score:5, Informative)

    by sesshomaru (173381) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @12:13AM (#42817153) Journal

    Actually, that's inaccurate:

    "Using the same Super Disc technology as the proposed SNES drive, Sony began development on what was to eventually become the PlayStaion. Initially called the Super Disc, it was supposed to be able to play both SNES cartridges and CD-ROMs, of which Sony was to be the 'sole worldwide licenser,' as stated in the contract. Nintendo was now to be at the mercy of Sony, who could manufacture their own CDs, play SNES carts, and play Sony CDs. Needless to say, Nintendo began to get worried."
    ---- History of the PlayStation [ign.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2013 @01:09AM (#42817381)
    Ha ha ha disregard that I suck cock.
  • by strength_of_10_men (967050) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @01:25AM (#42817453)
    To be clear, that chart lists "Entertainment and Devices" division, of which Xbox is but one product, the others being Windows Phone, Surface, all MS Hardware, and other things. So it's not quite as easy as saying "xbox is losing money for MS" unless you can actually break that out of the rest of the division.
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday February 07, 2013 @11:19AM (#42820227) Homepage Journal

    its not really goofy-ass architecture, just different.

    It has been dissected here time and again by games developers just how it's goofy.

    In a way, you can blame MS for thinking its goofy-ass because (like Windows) we're all conditioned to think everything must work in only 1 way.

    I have no love for DirectX, but MS arguably did things the more "right" way, in that their way is less of a pain in the ass.

    You might not remember old style computers that had separate chips for sub functions, like the Amiga that kicked ass because it had a CPU with several discrete support chips for sound and video.

    I own an A1200 and have owned A500, 2000, 2500, and 3000.

    The PS3 is just much more of the same.

    No, it certainly is not. That is a specious comparison. If you are actually familiar with the Amiga then you know that is pure bullshit. The Amiga was similar to game consoles in that it had unified memory, except hilariously the PS3 doesn't have unified memory, and the Xbox 360 does. But it was also very like modern PCs in that it had hardware to do the heavy lifting and free the CPU to perform computing tasks instead of doing so much shoveling.

    The Amiga was completely cool, don't get me wrong. At the time, having a bunch of chips floating around the CPU doing DMA was a big deal. Today, we all have that, and PCs with unified memory are a dime a dozen. Even tablets have this, even though the various chips are on a single chip; the graphics are handled by a separate core! The Amiga was groundbreaking, but its legacy is not gone, it is everywhere. It is not, however, in the PS3. The PS3 has a wacky CPU, where the Amiga used a bog-standard COTS 68k CPU. That meant that you could re-use code written for other platforms, like the Atari ST, and then you could utilize the custom chips to make the software better. The PS3 has separate graphics and main memory, where the 360 permits you to partition it, as the Amiga did. The Amiga did have CHIP and FAST memory, but base (unexpanded) Amigas didn't actually have any FAST RAM, so most games didn't account for it anyway. It was more common for games to require 1MB CHIP than to require 1MB RAM generally, and then you needed a fatter Agnus or a later machine.

    Now the crappy SDK probably didn't help matters at all. They should learn from that when they do the next console.

    The PS3 suggests that Sony has a hard time learning. The Playstation dominated the Saturn in part because of developer acceptance. The Saturn was compared by one developer to a pile of chips on a board. The Playstation had a relatively elegant SDK and hardware for transparency, so it was much easier to make games for. Then instead of using MIPS cores relatively unadulterated Sony stuck them together with baling wire and glue to make the PS2's processor. And that made developers angry, and then they made an even wackier architecture for the PS3. But rumors suggest that the new machine will be using a fairly standard multicore CPU, so perhaps they will also unfuck the SDK.

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