Opening The Xbox

I have just finished reading “Opening The Xbox”. A very enjoyable and interesting read, especially if you have an Xbox (if you don’t have an Xbox, get one now – they are great fun). The book traces the roots of the Xbox within Microsoft – the team who first put forward the idea, how the ideas took shape, the trials and tribulations that took place on the way with software design, finance, fighting the competition, the launches, dealing with other games developers, agreeing machine specification (should it have a hard disk, should it have a modem, etc), marketing and so on.


It’s also a very interesting insight into how Microsoft works – the book covers the early meetings with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, how the team struggled with the financial model, the battle for the operating system it would use (the fight was between Windows NT (which won) and Windows CE), getting the people and resources needed to make the project viable, aligning it with Microsoft’s other plans – many of the original team didn’t make it through to the launch!   


This is the second Xbox book I have read – the other is “Hacking the XBOX: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering” (both of these books were recommended by my good colleague Tony Cocks). I am not an electrical engineer, so I skipped over much of this – though I have an Xbox, I have no desire to open it up and start soldering bits to it! It is still interesting to read about how it was designed, and in particular, how the author managed to work out so many of its secrets, especially those designed to stop people making illegal modifications to it. Essential reading if you are interested in security.


Happy reading.

Comments (7)

  1. jonpoon says:

    I’ve read this book when it first came out.

    It felt like a great read, and i practically finished it in one go, on the way home from office, which is about one and a half hour.

    Like you said, the insights into the way meetings were held, the struggles between the two teams, were the highlights for me.

  2. Adam says:

    Does it refer at all to our previous game console effort in partnership with Sega e.g. the work we did on Dreamcast?

  3. Sam says:

    If you don’t have an XBox yet, DON’T bother, its a stupidly huge design with a rounded top, so it doesn’t fit anywhere, and you can’t put anything on top of it.

  4. David Gristwood says:

    I’ll ignore the comment about not buying one, but the book talks about how they did home visits to people who had consoles, and designed it so you COULDN’T put drinks and the like on top of it, so they wouldn’t spill and run into the machine!!!

  5. David Gristwood says:

    No,it doesn’t cover the Dreamcast, though it is mentioned a number of times.

  6. Sam says:

    People who put drinks on consoles deserve to let the drinks spill. I was speaking of a more practical application, where you might want to stack your dvd player or vcr on top.