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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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  • No news here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:14PM (#42816449)

    It was pretty well agreed eight years ago that the living room was a possible avenue for a "Trojan Horse" that would take over as the household computing center and push aside the consumer PC. And Bill Gates was always paranoid about competition, not just established players in personal computing like Apple but also new entrants large and small. That's why MS got into so much trouble with the anti-trust regulators in the '90s. Sony didn't want to make some sweetheart development deal with MS... so what? Sony was big and powerful, and some of the last companies that made the mistake of trying to buddy up to Microsoft were IBM (with the original PC) and Sybase (with SQL Server development for Windows). Jerry Kaplan wrote about his own close encounter with Bill Gates in his book "Startup" (Kaplan demo'd the Go tablet computer for Gates and Jeff Raikes, hoping to interest them in application development; instead, Gates turned around and launched the Pen Windows project. Guess who was put in charge? Yup. Jeff Raikes).

    As usual, Steve Jobs got it right... the game console wasn't going to be the centerpiece for consumer technology. It looks so obvious in retrospect.

  • Linux/Windows/OS X (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:18PM (#42816485)
    As a long time user of linux, I have to say that I also enjoy Windows for the moments when it is appropriate. Same for OS X. There 3 amazing accomplishments of the human mind. And should be celebrated as such.
  • by Jeremi (14640) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:19PM (#42816487) Homepage

    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).

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:21PM (#42816497) Homepage

    Reasons to get into business #32:

    Spite.

    Unfortunately, that's also the reasonining behind a number of open source projects.

  • Embrace... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elashish14 (1302231) <profcalc4@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:21PM (#42816499)

    Given MS's strategy of Embrace, Extend, Extinguish, it's obvious Sony made the right choice.

    In all honesty, why would any hardware vendor want to tie themselves to a platform over which they have no control? Look at how MS throws around their desktop hardware partners, dictating to them which minimum and maximum hardware requirements the system can have. No doubt they would try to pull the same shenanigans with Sony. And then look at how MS blames its hardware partners for crappy Win8 sales when it's really fault for designing the OS in ways that no consumer ever wanted? And then there's the atrocity that's Windows RT, and how nothing runs on it!! I'm guessing that there isn't a single hardware vendor on the planet that wouldn't love to never have to deal with MS again, were it not for their desktop monopoly... probably even MS itself!

    It's not unreasonable that Sony executives made the simple observation: companies that entangle with MS never do well. Seriously - for each and every company that MS has partnered with that's doing decently, you can name 5 that are in the gutter or dead altogether.

    At least MS did a better job with the Xbox than they did with WinMo. That's not saying much, but hey, when you're Microsoft, that's really all you've got...

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki AT cox DOT net> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:21PM (#42816517)

    Well, they could've coexisted with the Xbox if the play station 3 didn't cost 599 at launch. Well, there's also the argument that the SDK could've been better, but I tend to think of developers as whiny. Not to mention spoiled considering the Xbox tool chain was directx and the windows kernel running on PowerPC.

    Still. The idiocy of Sony wasn't spitting in Billy G's face, it was fucking up the ps3

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:37PM (#42816633)

    Wii? 150 bucks new. Does not do HD, but I personally don't care. Also gets hulu and amazon and has a decent youtube app. Also you can softmod it for homebrew and get wiimc and vlc shares. Also stream movies, music, pictures over wifi from your pc. And you can play some great video games. Hook up a hard drive and you don't even need to leave your couch to put in the dvd. AND no online fees. Plus it's approachable to play videogames with your girlfriend or her parents, even if they are terrible at them. Has a terrible web browser though, but that's what your ipad/phone is for. Seriously, if you don't give a crap about HD, Wii is hands down the most amazing piece of TV machinery ever.

  • by hairyfish (1653411) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:05PM (#42816789)
    I'm going to hazard a guess here and say that IBM and Sun are both doing better than you are. Perhaps there is a reason for that?
  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:25PM (#42816895) Homepage Journal

    Call it spite, if you like.

    If millions of users need an app, or a functionality, that is only available at prices up to ten thousand dollars per seat - you can expect an open source alternative to spring up, sooner or later.

    Yeah, call it spite. Or, you could say, "It's the economy, stupid!"

    If it can be demonstrated that people can teach an animal to roll over and play dead, should everyone in the world who wishes to do so have to pay ten, fifty, or maybe a thousand dollars to the guy who figured out how to do so?

    I say no.

    In the case of Microsoft, they taught computers how to blue screen and play dead. I'm not willing to pay for that privilege, thank you very much. Ditto with Autocad, Dragon Naturally Speaking, and the hundreds of other useful things that a person can do with a computer. My computer serves ME, not some faceless corporation amassing unmeasurable fortunes in offshore accounts.

    Open source for the win!

  • by DeathFromSomewhere (940915) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:37PM (#42816963)
    You guys making this argument really need to start picking better examples.

    IBM (with MS-DOS

    They defined the PC as we know it including a lot of standards that persist to this day. It was immensely successful and allowed for IBM to dominate the personal computing space for years.

    and OS/2)

    Was doomed from the start. IBM is equally to blame for its demise, despite the haterade that people on slashdot are drinking.

    Sun (with Java)

    I seem to remember that involving more lawsuits than any sort of cooperation. In any case Java is currently a very popular language in the enterprise.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2013 @12:00AM (#42817085)

    That's the problem with your average open source zealot, they aren't very good in social matters. That's why there is so much arrogance and hostility towards their own users when questions, bug reports or suggestions arise. It's also the reason that no open source project has ever been successful without the help of a large corporation.

  • by GigaplexNZ (1233886) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @12:01AM (#42817089)

    Like Microsoft operatives infiltrated SONY at all levels of management and sent the company crashing into the ground? I think that'd be funny.
    Of course, if Microsoft were competent enough to do that...

    Considering what they've done to Nokia, they definitely seem capable of doing just that.

  • by CMontgomery (1238316) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @12:07AM (#42817129)
    Microsoft pioneered online gaming for consoles. Before Xbox Live the Playstation network sucked. You had to hold down the square button, a face button, to talk in SOCOM 2-one of the extraordinarily few games to feature voice- and even then only one person could talk at a time. Playstation Online had no friends list, and required you to buy an extra harddrive (and hope you had the right ps2 to install it into).

    Then along came Microsoft with Xbox Live. Voice chat in every game, cross games friend list, voice messages, game invites, it was crazy. For years Xbox had, basically, the only choice for online gaming. Ps2 online was crap compared to Xbox.

    And you know the thing about all that is? It costs money. $50/year. If you can't pay that you probably should spend more time working and less time buying Xboxes.

    As to Netflix, of course the system kicks you off for having different software than the servers. You can't wait a minute for a 20 mb download every few months?

    If you own a console, Xbox Live is the best option. Speed, reliability, and even the updates are shorter than any other console. Playstation is getting pretty good (But Oh No! Playstation Plus isn't free either!), but they are always playing catchup.
  • by Xtifr (1323) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @12:35AM (#42817245) Homepage

    Furthermore, it was limited to BMG, and BMG was bought by Sony at just about the same time the kit came out. Sony ended up with the blame for something that clearly had to be planned, designed, and implented before they even came into the picture. It should be referred to as the BMG rootkit, not the Sony rootkit, but who the heck remembers BMG these days?

    Not that I want to defend Sony. They've made more than their share of horrible misteps over the last few years, and any lingering respect I might have had for them is long gone. But yeah, I think the rootkit thing gets seriously overblown around here. Heck, Microsoft has completely pwned the entire OS on many people's systems. :)

  • Old news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SilenceBE (1439827) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @01:28AM (#42817471)
    As described in the book "opening the xbox", it worked on Bill Gates nerves that sony was to powerfull in the living room and it could use its weight to influence what became new standards in the living room. Look at the DVD for example how the ps2 accelerated the adoption of this format. Microsoft dream is about Microsoft everywhere

    The same thing happend with blu ray that totally destroyed microsoft hd dvd push. The xbox never has been about gaming and I'm even sure that for the next xbox the focus will be also bigger on non gaming capabilities.

    The irony of the whole thing is that the xbox seriously weakend their windows platform as it weakened the argument "I need windows because I want to game"
  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki AT cox DOT net> on Thursday February 07, 2013 @01:41AM (#42817531)

    Did I mention graphics? I said SDK. A lot of developers have been bitching about the ps3's SDK. Even if the games look great, that doesn't mean the SDK doesn't suck.

    But I'm willing to err on the side of Sony here because the notion that developers are whiny and spoiled is more attractive to me.

  • by mr_jrt (676485) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @07:04AM (#42818743) Homepage

    I heard it was that Nintendo fucked up the contracts and realised at the last minute that they'd given Sony the rights for anything released on CDs, whilst they retained rights to anything released on carts. Given the way the market was clearly going, they realised they'd basically dropped the soap, so jumped out the shower and rather than "officially" cancelling the Play Station project, they switched to Phillips with some proper contracts and well...but this all took so long the numbers didn't add up...so no SNES CD, but those awful CD-i Zelda games did.

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