Bill Gates ripped into Xbox team over original Xbox plans

By: Vamien McKalin
2 minute read

The Xbox brand right now is one of the most known and successful brands, but things could have been very different. Before the release of the original Xbox, the team behind the console had to pitch the idea to Bill Gates in order to get it off the ground. Unfortunately for them, Mr. Gates had no intention of seeing eye-to-eye with anyone in regards to this closed gaming system.

Xbox co-creator Ed Fries revealed in an interview with IGN how the team was not prepared for the fierce lashing Bill Gates delivered:

“Bill walks in, he’s holding our Powerpoint (sic) deck, throws it down on the table and says, ‘This is a [blanking] insult to everything I’ve done at this company’—basically was the quote. And that was the start of the meeting.”

According to Fries, this session took place on Valentines Day and involved Jay Allard, Steve Ballmer and others. The concern both Gates and Ballmer had with the original Xbox was how many millions it would cost. At first, it appeared as if things was going south until a senior guy at the company raised his hand and said, “What about Sony?” The fear of having Sony take over the living room because the company at the time was dabbling in its own processors was too much for Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer to handle. In the end, it was enough to give the Xbox team the go-ahead to make history.

Looking back at everything, Bill Gates preferred a system with Windows inside because Windows should be able to do everything. Fast forward to 2016 and it is evident Gates was on the right track because Microsoft is now throwing Windows at everything. The Xbox One has transformed into a Windows 10 machine that will support cross-platform gaming with Windows 10 computers in the form of Xbox Play Anywhere.

Several games are already set to support Xbox Play Anywhere, and we expect Microsoft to solidify this shift with the launch of Project Scorpio in 2017.

If Microsoft had gone ahead with the original Windows plan, Steam might not have become as powerful as it is today and Microsoft might have conquered gaming on the PC.


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