XBOX 360



The Xbox 360 is the successor to Microsoft's Xbox video game console, developed in co-operation with IBM, ATI, Samsung and SiS. Information on the console first came through viral marketing campaigns and it was officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005, with detailed launch and game information divulged later that month at the prominent Electronic Entertainment Expo. Upon its release the Xbox 360 became the first console to have a simultaneous launch across the three major regions, as well as the first console to provide Wireless controllers as a standard. It also serves as the first entrant in a new generation of game consoles and will compete against Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii. Microsoft believes that its push towards High-definition gaming, year-early headstart and its Xbox Live online gaming service will help in the console's success.

Known during development as the Xenon, Xbox 2, Xbox Next or NextBox, the Xbox 360 was conceived in early 2003. In January of 2003 planning for Xenon software platform began. That month Microsoft held an event for 400 developers in Bellevue, Washington to recruit support for the system. Also that month Peter Moore, former president of Sega of America, joined Microsoft. On August 12, 2003 ATI signed on to produce the graphic processing unit for the new console, a deal which was publicly announced two days later. The following month IBM signed on to develop the Triple-Core CPU for the console. In the summer of 2004, G4 TV reported that Microsoft had shown an early design of "Project Xenon" to a select few gamers at the Mountain Dew Den at the Mall of America. Before the launch of the Xbox 360, several alpha development kits where spotted using Apple Power Mac G5 hardware. Games running on these were reported to be using 25-30% of the actual systems power. Microsoft chose to use these systems for their PowerPC architecture, which is similar to that of the Xenon CPU used in the system. On October 24 2005 Microsoft shut down Xbox Live for a day to upgrade it for the Xbox 360.

The Xbox 360 was released on November 22, 2005 in United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, December 2, 2005 in Europe, December 10, 2005 in Japan, February 2, 2006 in Mexico and Colombia, February 24, 2006 in South Korea, March 16, 2006 in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan and March 23, 2006 in Australia and New Zealand after a 3-week delay. Also, an official launch for the Philippines was announced. At E3 2006, Microsoft announced that the console will be officially launched in eight new countries: South Africa, Chile, India, Brazil, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Due to its early launch, the Xbox 360 has a jump start on both of its competitors, Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii, which are scheduled for release during the fourth quarter 2006.

Because of a manufacturing bottleneck for having started the massive manufacturing only 69 days before launching, Microsoft was not able to supply enough systems to meet consumer demand in Europe or North America. Many potential customers were not able to procure a console at launch and the lack of availability led to Xbox 360 bundles selling on eBay at grossly inflated prices, with some auctions exceeding US$2000. By year's end Microsoft had sold 1.5 million units; including 900,000 in North America, 500,000 in Europe, and 100,000 in Japan. Only six games were initially offered in Japan and eagerly anticipated titles like Dead or Alive 4 and [eM] -eNCHANT arM- were not released until several weeks after launch.

Microsoft's retail strategy involves two different configurations of the Xbox 360 in most countries: the Xbox 360 SKU, frequently referred to as the Xbox 360 Premium Package; and an Xbox 360 Core System SKU. At launch, the Xbox 360 was priced at USD $399. The Core System is not available in Japan, instead Microsoft offers a package identical to the Xbox 360 SKU for JPN ¥37,900. Additionally in Australia and New Zealand the Xbox Live headset in the Xbox 360 Package was not included. [citation needed]

BusinessWeek magazine compiled a report that estimates the total cost of components in the "premium" bundle at $525 USD, sans manufacturing costs, meaning that Microsoft is losing money on every Xbox 360 system sold (in the United States, at least). It should be noted that the strategy of selling a console at a loss or near-loss is common in the console games industry, as console makers can usually expect to make up the loss through game licensing. Furthermore, since Microsoft owns the intellectual property rights to the hardware used in the Xbox 360, they can easily switch to new fabrication processes or change suppliers in the future in order to reduce manufacturing costs. This flexibility stands in contrast to the situation faced with the original Xbox, which Microsoft was never able to reduce manufacturing costs below the break-even point. Microsoft is predicting that with the Xbox 360, a greater market share and falling hardware costs will eventually make system sales profitable.

With the launch of the Xbox 360, Microsoft's online gaming service, Xbox Live went through a major upgrade, adding a basic non-subscription service, Silver, to its already established premium subscription-based service, Gold. Xbox Live Silver is free of charge and allows users to create a user profile, join on message boards, access Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade, along with marketplace and talk to other members. Xbox Live supports voice communication along with video communication, a feature to be launched sometime in 2006.

Xbox Live Gold has the same features as Silver, plus online game playing capabilities. Microsoft has allowed for previous Xbox Live subscribers to maintain their profile information, friends lists, and games history when they make the transition to Xbox Live Gold. To transition an Xbox Live account to the new system the user needs to link a Windows Live ID to their gamertag on Xbox.com. Then when the user goes to add a Xbox Live enabled profile to their console, the user just needs to provide the console with their passport account information and the last four digits of their credit card number, which is used for verification purposes and billing. An Xbox Live Gold account costs $49.99 USD, $59.99 CDN, £39.99 Pounds Sterling, €59.99 per year.

The Xbox Live Marketplace is a virtual market designed for Microsoft's Xbox 360 console that allows Xbox Live subscribers to download purchased or promotional content. The service offers movie and game trailers, game demos, Xbox Live Arcade games, gamer tag images, and Xbox 360 Dashboard themes. These features are avaible to both silver and gold members on Xbox live. To purchase the products off market place a hard drive is needed to store the products. In order to download priced content users are required to purchase Microsoft Points for use as scrip. Not all products have a price, as some are free to download.

Xbox Live Arcade is an online service operated by Microsoft that is used to distribute video games to Xbox and Xbox 360 owners. The service was first launched in late 2004 and offers games from about $5 to $15 USD. In late 2005, Xbox Live Arcade was relaunched with the release of the Xbox 360 in which new games and features were offered. The games are generally aimed toward more casual gamers, examples of some of the more popular among them are Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, Street Fighter II' Hyper Fighting, and UNO.

A unique feature of the console is its robust graphical user interface, the Xbox 360 Dashboard; a tabbed interface that features four "Blades". It can be launched automatically when the console boots up without a disc, or when the disc tray is ejected; or the user may choose to launch a game automatically if a disk is inserted. A simplified version of it can also be accessed at any time via the Xbox Guide button on the gamepad. This simplified version shows the user's gamercard, Xbox Live messages and friends list. It also allows for personal and music settings, in addition to voice or video chats.

Microsoft XNA is a set of tools and technologies which include XNA Studio which provides versions of key production tools such as asset management, defect tracking, project automation and work lists. These tools are designed to work together to automate common development tasks and present interfaces tailored to the different functions within the team. John Carmack stated at QuakeCon 2005 that the Xbox 360 has "the best development environment I've seen on a console." Microsoft XNA also includes other components such as the XNA Framework and XNA Build. Anyone can develop a game using XNA Game Studio Express, an IDE for homebrew developers that will be fully available free of charge during the 2006 holiday period with a beta for release 30 August 2006. It will target the XNA Framework only to provide managed content and for a $99 USD yearly subscription fee users can join a "creators club" which lets them share their content with others.

Backward compatibility is achieved through software emulation of the original Xbox. Emulated games offer graphical enhancements because they are rendered in 720p or 1080i resolution with anti-aliasing enabled rather than the Xbox standard of 480p. Some games also benefit from an improvement in the rendered draw distance, possibly due to the system's greater memory bandwidth. However there are also games that do not perform well in emulation; these often exhibit a lower framerate on the Xbox 360. A hard drive is required to enable backward compatibility, due to the original Xbox needing a hard drive to run. Updated emulation profiles can be obtained through Xbox Live, by burning a CD with profiles downloaded from Xbox.com, or by ordering an update disc from Microsoft. The full list of backward-compatible games is maintained at Xbox.com. Although the current U.S. list includes over 200 games, fewer titles are backward compatible in European and Japanese markets. Microsoft has stated that they intend to release more emulation profiles as they become available, with a goal of making the entire Xbox library playable on the Xbox 360. They have since made multiple statements indicating that this may never be complete, and the rate of updates to the backwards compatibility list is in line with this stated attitude.

The CPU, named Xenon is a custom IBM tri-core PowerPC-based design.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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