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The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft, and the successor to the Xbox. The Xbox 360 competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles.

Some major features of the Xbox 360 are its integrated Xbox Live service that allows players to compete online, download arcade games, game demos, trailers, TV shows, music and movies and its Windows Media Center multimedia capabilities. The Xbox 360 also offers region specific access to third-party media streaming services such as Netflix and ESPN in the USA or Sky TV in the UK.

The Xbox 360 was officially unveiled on VH1 on May 12, 2005, with detailed launch and game information divulged later that month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The console sold out completely upon release in all regions except in Japan, and, as of April 2010, there are over 40 million Xbox 360 consoles worldwide

At their E3 presentation on 14 June 2010, Microsoft announced a redesigned Xbox 360 that would ship on the same day. The redesigned console is slimmer than the previous Xbox 360 model and features integrated 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, TOSLINK S/PDIF optical audio output, a 250 GB hard drive, 5 USB 2.0 ports (compared to the 3 from older versions) and a special AUX port. Older models of the Xbox 360 are being discontinued.

DevelopmentEdit

Known during development as Xenon, Xbox 2, Xbox FS, Xbox Next, or NextBox, the Xbox 360 was conceived in early 2003. In February 2003, planning for the Xenon software platform began, and was headed by Microsoft's Vice President J Allard. 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. Before the launch of the Xbox 360, several Alpha development kits were spotted using Apple's Power Mac G5 hardware. This was due to the system's PowerPC 970 processor running the same PowerPC architecture that the Xbox 360 would eventually run under IBM's Xenon processor. The cores of the Xenon processor were developed using a slightly-modified version of the PlayStation 3's Cell Processor PPE architecture. According to David Shippy and Mickie Phipps, the IBM employees were "hiding" their work from Sony and Toshiba."

LaunchEdit

Main article: Xbox 360 launchThe Xbox 360 was released on November 22, 2005, in the United States and Canada; December 2, 2005, in Europe and December 10, 2005, in Japan. It was later launched in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, and Russia. In its first year on the market, the system launched in 36 countries, more countries than any console has launched in a single year.

Retail configurationsEdit

At launch, the Xbox 360 was available in two configurations: the "Xbox 360" package (unofficially known as the 20 GB Pro or Premium), priced at US$399 or GB£279.99, and the "Xbox 360 Core," priced at US$299 and GB£209.99. The original shipment of the Xbox 360 version included a cut-down version of the Media Remote as a promotion. The Elite package was launched later at US$479. The "Xbox 360 Core" was replaced by the "Xbox 360 Arcade" in October 200 and a 60 GB version of the Xbox 360 Pro was released on August 1, 2008. The Pro package was discontinued and marked down to US$249 on August 28, 2009 to be sold until stock ran out, while the Elite was also marked down in price to US$299. In Jue 2010, Microsoft announced a new, redesigned, model and the discontinuation of the Elite and Arcade models.

Current modelsEdit

The current Xbox 360 is a redesign of the Xbox 360, announced during Microsoft's press briefing prior to E3 2010. Technically distinguished as "Xbox 360 S,"[20] the console redesign is marketed simply as the "Xbox 360".[21] Different Xbox 360 models following the redesign do not have individual names, and are designated solely by storage capacity.[11]

It was speculated that a complete redesign of the Xbox 360 hardware was being produced after pictures of a possible new motherboard design surfaced on March 17, 2010.[22] Ads later surfaced on June 13, 2010 showing a slimmer Xbox 360 design, which was expected to include a 250 GB hard drive and integrated Wi-Fi functionality.[23]

[edit] Xbox 360 SEdit

[1][2]The Xbox 360 "S".The Xbox 360 S (commonly referred to as the Slim and marketed and packaged simply as the Xbox 360) is a redesign of the Xbox 360 hardware which was officially announced on June 14, 2010. The first Xbox 360 S model to be released is the 250 GB model[24], replacing the Xbox 360 Elite at the US$300 price tier. A second version of the hardware, set to release at the Xbox 360 Arcade's US$200 price point, is currently in development.[11] Unlike previous generations of the console which had names to distinguish different SKUs, the new models are to be marketed solely by the amount of included storage,[11] in a similar fashion to current models of its main competitor the PlayStation 3.

The Xbox 360 S is smaller and quieter than the previous versions of the Xbox 360 and is based around an integrated CPU/GPU chip using a 45nm fabrication process[25] and redesigned internal architecture. It includes a custom internal HDD (currently 250 GB), 5 USB 2.0 ports (2 more than previous models) and a custom USB port for use with peripherals such as the Kinect sensor.[25] Unlike its predecessors, it also features integrated 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and a TOSLINK S/PDIF optical audio connector, allowing for digital audio and wireless networking without the need for an external adapter.[25] The Xbox 360 Memory Unit slots found on previous consoles have been removed in favor of the USB flash drive solution added in a system software update on April 6, 2010[26]. The power and DVD drive eject 'buttons' are touch sensitive rather than physical buttons. The 250 GB internal hard drive is swappable though not compatible with other models of Xbox 360, and is not simply a standard hard drive. Other notable changes include the use of one larger fan compared to the previous Xbox 360 models (which used two smaller ones) and the design of the vents, which are similar to those used on the original Xbox.

The new model was shipped to US retailers the same day it was announced and went on sale later that week. In Australia it will be released on July 1, 2010[27], in New Zealand on July 8, 2010[27] and in Europe on July 16, 2010[28]. The new model will cost US$299.99[27], GB£199[27], AU$449.00[27], NZ$499.00[27] or 249.00[29]. When the new Xbox 360 begins shipping, remaining stock of the Elite package will drop in price to US$249.99[11] or AU$349[30] and the Arcade will drop to US$149.99.[11]

Discontinued modelsEdit

[edit] Xbox 360 CoreEdit

The Xbox 360 Core was an entry level Xbox 360 which was later replaced with the "Arcade". Although available at launch in other regions, it was not available in Japan until November 2, 2006.[31] The Core system came bundled with composite video cables, capable of only SDTV resolutions. It was however capable of the same HDTV resolutions (up to 1080i) as the other models when connected to a separately sold Component cable. In October 2006, 1080p support was added for all models in a system update,[32] including the "Core" using either the component cable, or the new VGA cable (although 1080p via component was not widely supported by televisions). It may also utilize a separately sold Xbox 360 hard drive. Unlike all other SKUs, it shipped with a wired version of the Xbox 360 controller, instead of the wireless version found in other SKUs.

[edit] Xbox 360 Pro / Xbox 360 PremiumEdit

The Xbox 360 Pro[33] (sometimes referred to as Premium and packaged as simply Xbox 360 with the subheading "Go Pro") included all the features of the Xbox 360 Arcade and included a hybrid composite and component cable with optional optical out instead of a composite cable. This model also included a detachable Hard Disk Drive (initially 20 GB, while later models had 60 GB) to store downloaded content, provide compatibility with original Xbox games, and store game data. The included hard drive came with game demos, video clips and a free Live Arcade game, Hexic HD. In July 2007, this version of the Xbox 360 began appearing with the Zephyr motherboard (the motherboard used in the Elite) which features HDMI 1.2 output and an improved GPU heatsink. Although this package did include an HDMI output, it did not come with an HDMI cable.[34][35] Starting at the end of September 2007, the newest systems were shipped with the new "Falcon" motherboard. This motherboard includes the new 65-nm CPUs, making them quieter and cooler than the older systems.[36] On August 1, 2008, the 20 GB version was discontinued and was replaced by a 60 GB HDD model at the same price. Holiday 2008 consoles were bundled with Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures and Kung Fu Panda.[37] Price cuts that took effect on September 4, 2008 reduced the price from $349 to $299.[38] The Xbox 360 Pro, following its discontinuation, retailed for $249.99 until stocks were exhausted.

[edit] Xbox 360 EliteEdit

The Xbox 360 Elite included a 120 GB hard drive and a matte black finish. The Elite retail package also included a controller and headset that match the system's black finish.[39] The initial release price was $479.99 USD,[40] C$549.99,[40] £299.99, and AU$729.95. The Elite was released in North America on April 29, 2007,[41] Europe on August 24, 2007, and Australia on August 30, 2007. Early Elite models shipped using the Zephyr motherboard, though later models used the Falcon 65 nm chipset instead.[citation needed] These Elites (and other Xbox 360 models using the Falcon) can be identified from earlier versions by a re-designed power connector and a power supply rated to 175 W. In 2009, Elite models using the Jasper chipset became available. These can also be identified by their power supply, which is rated at 150W and has a 12.1A 12v rail. Holiday 2008 consoles were bundled with Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures and Kung Fu Panda.[37] The Elite's price tag was cut from $449 to $399 on September 4, 2008.[18][19] With the announcement of the new Xbox 360 250 GB model, the Elite dropped in price to US$249.99 for remaining units until stocks are exhausted.[11]

[edit] Xbox 360 ArcadeEdit

The Xbox 360 Arcade[42] replaced the "Xbox 360 Core" as the entry level Xbox 360 on October 23, 2007, while retaining the Core's price of US$279.99.[43] It was publicly revealed by Microsoft's president of Entertainment Devices division Robbie Bach to the Financial Times on October 18, 2007,[44] and officially announced on October 22, 2007[17], although it was available in stores far earlier[42]. It included a wireless controller, composite AV cable, HDMI 1.2 output, a 256 MB memory unit and 5 Xbox Live Arcade titles:[45] Boom Boom Rocket, Feeding Frenzy, Luxor 2, Pac-Man Championship Edition, and Uno on a single disk, which also included a "Welcome Video" and several game trailers/demos.[46] Like its predecessor the "Core", it did not include a hard disk drive, which is required for Xbox software backwards compatibility. In Autumn (Fall) 2008, with the introduction of the Jasper motherboard revision, the memory unit was removed from the package and replaced with an 256 MB internal memory chip.[47] This was later upgraded to a 512 MB chip in Summer 2009.[48] Holiday 2008 consoles were bundled with Sega Superstars Tennis.[37] With the price cuts on September 4, 2008, the Arcade fell from US$279 to US$199 in the US.[38] In the UK, with the 2009 Elite price drop and discontinuation of the "Premium" Pro SKU, the Arcade price rose from GB£129.99 to GB£159.99.[49] With the unveiling of the Xbox 360 S redesign, the Arcade dropped in price to US$149.99 for remaining units until stocks are exhausted. Microsoft is currently working on a replacement for the Arcade at the US$199 price tier.[11]

[edit] Xbox 360 Super EliteEdit

The Xbox 360 Elite has also been configured with a 250 GB hard disk drive and 2 wireless controllers on special limited editions of the console. Also referred to as the Xbox 360 Super Elite[50] the console retailed at US$399.99, GB£249.99 and AU$599.00[51] as of 10 November 2009. A Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 bundle includes a special limited edition console design and a flat black finish. Other bundles include a standard Elite finish and either the game Forza Motorsport 3[52][53] or both Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST.[54] On March 9, 2010, alongside the release of Final Fantasy XIII, Microsoft released another Super Elite bundle with the same extras as the Modern Warfare bundle (excluding the Modern Warfare print on the console) except bundled with the Final Fantasy XIII game. Unlike the original Elite, the console featured a white finish. It also included exclusive downloadable items for use with Xbox 360 avatars.[55][56]

[edit] Comparison of featuresEdit

Information is based on current specifications for standard packages. Older or holiday packages may differ from current configurations.

Model Storage HDMI Appearance Accessories/Bundled Items Suggested Retail Price First Available In Prod.
S[11] 250 GB HDD Yes Gloss blackGloss black disc drive Wireless controller

Wired Headset[57] Composite video cable[b]

[3] $299.99 [4] £199.99 [5] €249.99 [58] [6] $449.00[27] [7] $499.00[27] NA June 18, 2010EU July 16, 2010[59]

AU July 1, 2010[27] NZ July 8, 2010[27]

Yes
Elite 250 GB HDD[a] Yes Matte blackChrome disc drive Ethernet cableWired Headset

Composite video cable[b][g][60]

2 wireless controllers [8] $399.99 [9] $399.99 [10] £249.99 [11] €329.99 [12] $599.00 October 23, 2009[53] No[61]
120 GB HDD 1 wireless controller [13] $299.99 [14] $329.99 [15] £199.99 [16] €299.99 [17] ¥29,800 [18] $549.00[62][63][64] April 29, 2007 No[11][61]
Arcade 512 MB[48] onboard Yes Matte white

Matte white disc drive

Wireless controller

Composite video cable[b][65] Xbox Live Arcade compilation disc[e] (not included with all units)

[19] $199.99 [20] $199.99 [21] £159.99 [22] €179.99 [23] ¥19,800 [24] $299.00[49][64] June 2009 No[11][61]
256 MB[47] onboard December 2008 No
256 MB memory unit October 23, 2007
Pro 60 GB HDD Yes Matte white

Chrome disc drive

Wireless controller

Ethernet cable Wired Headset[f] Hybrid video cable[c]

[25] $249.99 [26] $299.99 [27] £169.99 [28] €239.99 [29] ¥29,800 [30] $399.00[64] September 1, 2008 No
20 GB HDD After 2007 November 22, 2005 No
Core None No Matte white

Matte white disc drive

Wired controller

Composite video cable[b]

[31] $279.99 [32] £199.99 [33] ¥27,800 November 22, 2005 No

All Xbox 360s come with free Xbox Live Silver membership and a one-month trial of Xbox Live Gold membership (only new accounts are eligible). All Xbox 360s are backwards compatible with supported Xbox titles as long as they have an Xbox 360 HDD attached. This can be purchased separately for the Core/Arcade pack. All hard drives (included with a console or bought separately) come with the Xbox Live Arcade game Hexic HD. Included accessories match the color scheme of the console they are bundled with. All European consoles also include a composite SCART adapter (RGB Scart cable sold separately).

^ a Elite in this configuration is currently only available as a bundle with selected games (see below). ^ b The standard composite cable features three RCA connectors, for standard left and right channel audio and composite video, supporting a PAL, PAL-60 or NTSC image. It also lacks the TOSLINK connector found on the hybrid cable. ^ c The hybrid video cable features six RCA connectors, for standard left and right channel audio, composite video and HD component (YPbPr) supporting up to 1080p image[66] It also has a connector to attach a TOSLINK optical audio cable, which supports either 2 channel (stereo) LPCM or dolby digital 5.1. ^ d The audio dongle contains two RCA connectors for left and right audio and a TOSLINK optical audio connector. ^ e Compilation disk includes Boom Boom Rocket, Feeding Frenzy, Luxor 2, Pac-Man Championship Edition, and Uno. ^ f Excluding Mexican and older Australian and New Zealand versions, where a Media Remote is bundled instead ^ g Hybrid video cable[c], HDMI cable and audio dongle[d] were included with the 120GB model prior to September 2009

[edit] Special editionsEdit

[34][35]Halo 3 Special EditionOn a few occasions, Microsoft has produced special editions of the console, usually to coincide with the release of a major product. These special editions are typically custom-colored Xbox 360 models, and are produced in limited numbers.

  • At the E3 2007 press conference, Microsoft announced the Halo 3 Special Edition console, released September 25, 2007. It sports a Halo 3 theme on the console, a wired headset, a wireless controller, and a Play and Charge Kit. Other than the unique "Spartan green-and-gold" color scheme, exclusive dashboard theme and downloads, and an HDMI port,[67] its features were identical to those of the Xbox 360 system at the time.[68] It is priced at US$399.99 and £279.99 (the original price of the Xbox 360).[69]
  • To promote The Simpsons Movie, Microsoft created a specially designed, yellow Xbox 360 console.[70] The configuration was based on the Xbox 360 package of the time, the only difference being the color scheme of the Xbox 360 console and wireless controller. The consoles were to be given out to winners of drawings taking place between July 18, 2007 and July 27, 2007, in which a name was randomly drawn each day in the "10 Days and 10 Chances to Win" sweepstakes.[71] 100 consoles were produced in total.[72]
  • A Resident Evil 5 bundle containing a red Xbox 360 Elite console was released on March 13, 2009.[73] The bundle also contains a red, wireless controller and a black, wired headset.[74]

[edit] Super Elite special editionsEdit

  • On September 15, 2009 Microsoft announced a special 250 GB hard disk limited edition version of the Xbox 360 Elite for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The unit is highlighted by special game product branding and includes two wireless controllers and a headset. This was the first Xbox 360 announced to come with a 250 GB hard drive.[52]
  • A Final Fantasy XIII 250 GB limited edition bundle of the Xbox 360 console was announced on February 11, 2010, for release to coincide with the release of Final Fantasy XIII (March 9, 2010). The bundle includes an imprinted white 250 GB Xbox 360 Elite (Final Fantasy XIII imprinted where HDD size imprint goes), two wireless controllers, a standard edition copy of Final Fantasy XIII, and exclusive downloadable avatar items. Other than the HDD imprint, this console is cosmetically identical to the (discontinued) Pro models.[75]
  • In March 2010, Microsoft announced a special limited edition black Xbox 360 Elite console for Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction. The unit includes a 250 GB hard drive, two black wireless controllers, a black wired headset, an Ethernet cable, a standard definition Composite A/V cable, and the standard edition version of the game.[76]

[edit] Xbox 360 Launch Team EditionEdit

[36][37]The Launch Team Console with controller.A white console with green accents was released in 2005 only to the Launch Team as a gift from Microsoft. The consoles came complete with a 20GB HDD also in green to match the top and bottom sections that are typically grey in color. The HDD plate was also personalized and engraved with the team member's gamertag. Few examples have been seen with simply the console release date November 22, 2005 engraved on the HDD plate. The consoles came with a limited issue controller to accompany the console. The difference with the controller again is the grey part on the controller is replaced with a green molded plastic, not painted contrary to popular belief, to match the console. Each console came with a plain white faceplate. However as an additional gift, each team member was given an additional packaged faceplate with one of a kind art with the caption "I Made This" on the USB door of the faceplate. Very few examples have been sold off from original team member's collection. Larry Hyrb, better known as "Major Nelson", is known to own one which he displays pictures of on his website having been a member of the Launch Team. The special edition Launch Team console, hard drive, controller and the special faceplate were never sold in stores or meant for the general public. It is unknown as of now how many of these very rare consoles exist today.

[edit] Holiday bundlesEdit

As with the original Xbox, Microsoft has continued bundling two video game titles in console retail packaging during the holiday season. During the holidays of 2007, the Xbox 360 Pro and Elite packages were bundled with Forza Motorsport 2 and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.[77] In the UK and the Netherlands, Forza Motorsport 2 was bundled with Viva Piñata.[78] Holiday 2008 Xbox 360 and Xbox 360 Elite packages were bundled with Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures and Kung Fu Panda, while Arcade consoles were bundled with Sega Superstars Tennis.[37] Holiday 2009 packages include an Elite console, Gears of War, LEGO Batman, and Pure.

[edit] Hardware and accessoriesEdit

[edit] HardwareEdit

[38][39]Xbox 360 Wireless ControllerMain article: Xbox 360 hardwareThe main unit of the Xbox 360 itself has slight double concavity in matte white or black. The official color of the white model is Arctic Chill. It features a port on the top when vertical (left side when horizontal) to which a custom-housed hard drive unit can be attached in sizes of either 20, 60, 120 or 250 GB. Inside, the Xbox 360 uses the triple-core IBM designed Xenon as its CPU, with each core capable of simultaneously processing two threads, and can therefore operate on up to six threads at once.[79] Graphics processing is handled by the ATI Xenos, which has 10 MB of eDRAM. Its main memory pool is 512 MB in size.

[edit] AccessoriesEdit

Main article: Xbox 360 accessoriesMany accessories are available for the console, including both wired and wireless controllers, faceplates for customization, headsets for chatting, a webcam for video chatting, dance mats and Gamercize for exercise, three sizes of memory units and four sizes of hard drives (20 GB, 60 GB, 120 GB and 250 GB (initially Japan only[80], but later also available in elsewhere[81][82])), among other items, all of which are styled to match the console.

[edit] KinectEdit

Main article: Kinect[40][41]The Kinect sensor device.Kinect is a "controller-free gaming and entertainment experience" for the Xbox 360. It was first announced on June 1, 2009 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, under the codename, Project Natal. The add-on peripheral enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without a game controller by using gestures, spoken commands and presented objects and images. The Kinect accessory is compatible with all Xbox 360 models, connecting to new models via a custom connector, and to older ones via a USB and mains power adapter[83]. During their CES 2010 keynote speech, Robbie Bach and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer went on to say that Kinect will be released during the holiday period (November–January) and it will work with every 360 console. Its name and release date of November 4, 2010 were officially announced on June 13, 2010, prior to Microsoft's press conference at E3 2010.[84]

[edit] SoftwareEdit

[edit] DashboardEdit

See also: Xbox 360 System SoftwareThe Xbox 360's original graphical user interface was the Xbox 360 Dashboard; a tabbed interface that featured five "Blades" (formerly four blades), and was designed by AKQA. It could be launched automatically when the console booted without a disc in it, or when the disc tray was ejected, but the user had the option to select what the console does if a game is in the tray on start up, or if inserted when already on. A simplified version of it was also accessible at any time via the Xbox Guide button on the gamepad. This simplified version showed the user's gamercard, Xbox Live messages and friends list. It also allowed for personal and music settings, in addition to voice or video chats, or returning to the Xbox Dashboard from the game.

On November 19, 2008, the Xbox 360's dashboard was changed from the "Blade" interface, to a dashboard reminiscent of that present on the Zune and Windows Media Center, known as the "New Xbox Experience" or NXE.

Since the console's release, Microsoft has released several updates for the Dashboard software. These updates have included adding new features to the console, enhancing Xbox Live functionality and multimedia playback capabilities, adding compatibility for new accessories, and fixing bugs in the software. The latest Dashboard update was made available on April 6, 2010.

[edit] New Xbox ExperienceEdit

Further information: Xbox Live, section "New Xbox Experience"At E3 2008, at Microsoft's Show, Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg and Marc Whitten announced the new Xbox 360 interface called the "New Xbox Experience" (NXE). The update was intended to ease console menu navigation. Its GUI uses the Twist UI, previously used in Windows Media Center and the Zune. Its new Xbox Guide retains all Dashboard functionality (including the Marketplace browser and disk ejection) and the original "Blade" interface.

The NXE also provides many new features. Users can now install games from disc to the hard drive to play them with reduced load time and less disc drive noise, but each game's disc must remain in the system in order to run. A new, built-in Community system allows the creation of digitized Avatars that can be used for multiple activities, such as sharing photos or playing Arcade games like 1 vs. 100. The update was released on November 19, 2008.[85]

While previous system updates have been stored on internal memory, the NXE was the first to require a storage device—at least a 128 MB memory card or a hard drive.

[edit] MultimediaEdit

The Xbox 360 supports videos in Windows Media Video (WMV) format (including high-definition and PlaysForSure videos), as well as H.264 and MPEG-4 media. The December 2007 dashboard update added support for the playback of MPEG-4 ASP format videos.[86] The console can also display pictures and perform slideshows of photo collections with various transition effects, and supports audio playback, with music player controls accessible through the Xbox 360 Guide button. Users may play back their own music while playing games or using the dashboard, and can play music with an interactive visual synthesizer.

Music, photos and videos can be played from standard USB mass storage devices, Xbox 360 proprietary storage devices (such as memory cards or Xbox 360 hard drives), and servers or computers with Windows Media Center or Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or higher within the local-area network in streaming mode.[87][88] As the Xbox 360 uses a modified version of the UPnP AV protocol,[89] some alternative UPnP servers such as uShare (part of the GeeXboX project) and MythTV can also stream media to the Xbox 360, allowing for similar functionality from non-Windows servers. This is possible with video files up to HD-resolution and with several codecs (MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV) and container formats (WMV, MOV, TS).[90]

As of 27 October 2009,[91] UK and Ireland users are also able to access live and on-demand streams of Sky television programming.[92][93][94][95][96][97][98][99]

At the 2007, 2008, and 2009 Consumer Electronics Shows, Microsoft had announced that IPTV services would soon be made available to use through the Xbox 360. In 2007, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates stated that IPTV on Xbox 360 was expected to be available to consumers by the holiday season, using the Microsoft TV IPTV Edition platform.[100] In 2008, Gates and president of Entertainment & Devices Robbie Bach announced a partnership with BT in the United Kingdom, in which the BT Vision advanced TV service, using the newer Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV platform, would be accessible via Xbox 360, planned for the middle of the year.[101] BT Vision's DVR-based features would not be available on Xbox 360 due to limited hard drive capacity.[102] In 2010, while announcing version 2.0 of Microsoft Mediaroom, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer mentioned that AT&T's U-verse IPTV service would enable Xbox 360s to be used as set-top boxes later in the year.[103] As of January 2010, IPTV on Xbox 360 has yet to be deployed beyond limited trials.

[edit] XNA communityEdit

Main article: Microsoft XNAXNA Community is a feature whereby Xbox 360 owners can receive community-created games, made with Microsoft XNA Game Studio, from the XNA Creators Club . The games are written, published, and distributed through a community managed portal. XNA Community provides a channel for digital videogame delivery over Xbox Live that can be free of royalties, publishers and licenses.[104][105] XNA game sales, however, did not meet original expectations.[106]

[edit] GamesEdit

Main article: List of Xbox 360 gamesSee also: List of Xbox games compatible with Xbox 360 and List of Xbox OriginalsThe 2007 Game Critics Awards honored the Xbox 360 platform with 38 Nominations and 11 Wins - more than any other platform.[107] By March 2008, the Xbox 360 had reached a software attach rate of 7.5 games per console—a record for any console in history, in EU the rate was 7.0 while its competitors were 3.8 (PS3) and 3.5 (Wii).[108]

The Xbox 360 launched with 14 games in North America and 13 in Europe. The console's best-selling game for 2005, Call of Duty 2, sold over a million copies.[109] Five other games sold as well in the console's first year in the market: Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter,[110] The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion,[111] Dead or Alive 4,[112] Saints Row,[113] and Gears of War.[114] Gears of War would become the best-selling game of the console with 3 million units,[115] before being surpassed in 2007 by Halo 3, with 8.1 million units.[116]

Six games were initially offered in Japan, and eagerly anticipated titles such as Dead or Alive 4 and Enchanted Arms were released only a few weeks later.[117] Games more suitable to the region were planned or have since been released, such as Chromehounds, Ninety-Nine Nights, and Phantasy Star Universe.[118] Microsoft also had the support of RPG developer Mistwalker, founded by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. Mistwalker's first game, Blue Dragon, was released in 2006 and had a limited-edition bundle which sold out quickly with over 10,000 pre-orders.[119] Blue Dragon became the best-selling Xbox 360 game in the region, with over 200,000 units. Mistwalker's second game, Lost Odyssey also sold over 100,000 copies.[120]

At E3 2007, Microsoft announced that Disney movies would be coming to Xbox 360 Live Marketplace. New trailers were shown for Halo 3 and Halo Wars, as well as the announcement of a Halo-themed Xbox 360. Demos were also displayed for BioShock, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Assassin's Creed. At E3 2008, Microsoft demonstrated a number of titles for their 2008 line-up, including Fallout 3, Gears of War 2, Fable II, and Resident Evil 5, among other games. A television-style gaming feature known as Primetime was shown with a game based on the game show 1 vs. 100 shown as an example, there were also hints at a Big Brother type game and also a Deal or no Deal one. Final Fantasy XIII was also announced to be released for Xbox 360 in Europe and North America. E3 2009 saw the exclusive announcements of Crackdown 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and Halo: Reach, as well as live demos for Halo 3: ODST, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction and Alan Wake. Metal Gear Solid: Rising was also unveiled, making it the first Metal Gear game to appear on the Xbox 360.

[edit] Xbox LiveEdit

Main article: Xbox Live[42][43]Xbox Live DashboardWhen the Xbox 360 was released, Microsoft's online gaming service Xbox Live was shut down for 24 hours and underwent a major upgrade, adding a basic non-subscription service (Silver) to its already established premium subscription-based service (which was renamed Gold). Xbox Live Silver is free of charge and is included with all SKUs of the console. It allows users to create a user profile, join on message boards, and access Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade and Marketplace and talk to other members.[121] A Live Silver account does not generally support multiplayer gaming; however, some games that have rather limited online functions already, (such as Viva Piñata) or games that feature their own subscription service (e.g. EA Sports games) can be played with a Silver account. Xbox Live also supports voice and video communication, the latter a feature possible with the Xbox Live Vision; an add-on USB web camera designed specifically for the Xbox 360.[122] The Gamercard of a player with a Silver account has a silver trim, rather than gold.

Xbox Live Gold includes the same features as Silver and includes integrated online game playing capabilities outside of third-party subscriptions. Microsoft has allowed previous Xbox Live subscribers to maintain their profile information, friends list, and games history when they make the transition to Xbox Live Gold. To transfer an Xbox Live account to the new system, users need to link a Windows Live ID to their gamertag on Xbox.com.[123] When users add an Xbox Live enabled profile to their console, they are required 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 has an annual cost of US$49.99, C$59.99, NZ$90.00, GB£39.99, or 59.99. As of May 14, 2008, Xbox Live has over 20 million subscribers.[124]

[edit] Xbox Live MarketplaceEdit

Main article: Xbox Live Marketplace[44][45]Xbox Live MarketplaceThe Xbox Live Marketplace is a virtual market designed for the console that allows Xbox Live users to download purchased or promotional content. The service offers movie and game trailers, game demos, Xbox Live Arcade games, gamertag images, and Xbox 360 Dashboard themes as well as add-on game content (items, costumes, levels etc.). These features are available to both silver and gold members on Xbox Live. A hard drive or memory unit is required to store products purchased from Xbox Live Marketplace.[125] In order to download priced content, users are required to purchase Microsoft Points for use as scrip;[126] though some products (such as trailers and demos) are free to download. Microsoft Points can be obtained through prepaid cards in 1,600 and 4,000 point denominations. Microsoft Points can also be purchased through Xbox Live with a credit card in 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000 point denominations. Users are able to view items available to download on the service through a PC via the Xbox Live Marketplace website.[127] An estimated seventy percent of Xbox Live users have downloaded items from the Marketplace.[128]

[edit] Video storeEdit

On November 6, 2006, Microsoft announced the Xbox Video Marketplace, an exclusive video store accessible through the console. Launched in the United States on November 22, 2006, the first anniversary of the Xbox 360's launch, the service allows users in the United States to download high-definition and standard-definition television shows and movies onto an Xbox 360 console for viewing. With the exception of short clips, content is not currently available for streaming, and must be downloaded. Movies are also available for rental. They expire in 14 days after download or at the end of the first 24 hours after the movie has begun playing, whichever comes first. Television episodes can be purchased to own, and are transferable to an unlimited number of consoles. Downloaded files use 5.1 surround audio and are encoded using VC-1 for video at 720p, with a bitrate of 6.8 Mbit/s.[129] Television content is offered from MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Turner Broadcasting, and CBS; and movie content is Warner Bros., Paramount, and Disney, along with other publishers.[130]

After the Spring 2007 update, the following video codecs are supported:

  • H.264 video support: Up to 15 Mbit/s, Baseline, Main, and High (up to level 4.1) Profiles with 2 channel AAC LC and Main Profiles.
  • MPEG-4 Part 2 video support: Up to 8 Mbit/s, Simple Profile with 2 channel AAC LC and Main Profiles.

As a late addition to the December Xbox 360 update, 25 movies were added to the European Xbox 360 video market place on the December 11, 2007 and cost 250 Microsoft points for the SD version on the movie and 380 Microsoft points for the HD version of the movie.[131] Xbox Live members in Canada featured the ability to go on the Xbox Live Marketplace as of December 10, 2007 with around 30 movies to be downloaded for the same amount of Microsoft Points.

On May 26, 2009 Microsoft announced the future release of the Zune HD (in the fall of 2009), the next addition to the Zune product range. This is of an impact on the Xbox Live Video Store as it was also announced that the Zune Video Marketplace and the Xbox Live Video Store will be merged to form the Zune Marketplace, which will be arriving on Xbox Live in 7 countries initially, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Ireland and Spain.[132] Further details will be released at the Microsoft press conference at E3 2009.

[edit] Xbox Live ArcadeEdit

Main article: Xbox Live Arcade[46][47]Xbox Live ArcadeXbox Live Arcade is an online service operated by Microsoft that is used to distribute downloadable video games to Xbox and Xbox 360 owners. In addition to classic arcade games such as Ms. Pac-Man, the service offers some new original games like Assault Heroes. The Xbox Live Arcade also features games from other consoles, such as the PlayStation game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and PC games such as Zuma. The service was first launched on November 3, 2004,[133] using a DVD to load, and offered games for about US$5 to $15. Items are purchased using Microsoft Points, a proprietary currency used to reduce credit card transaction charges. On November 22, 2005, Xbox Live Arcade was re-launched with the release of the Xbox 360, in which it was now integrated with the Xbox 360's dashboard. The games are generally aimed toward more casual gamers; examples of the more popular titles are Geometry Wars, Street Fighter II' Hyper Fighting, and Uno.[134] On March 24, 2010, Microsoft introduced the Game Room to Xbox Live. Game Room is a gaming service for Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows that lets players compete in classic arcade and console games in a virtual arcade.[135]

[edit] SalesEdit

Region Units sold First available
Canada 870,000 as of 1 August 2008 (2008 -08-01)[136] November 22, 2005
United States 18.6 million as of 31 December 2009 (2009 -12-31)[137]
EMEA region

(Europe, Middle East and Africa)

10 million as of 13 November 2009 (2009 -11-13)[138](Includes UK sales) December 2, 2005
United Kingdom 3.9 million as of 13 January 2009 (2009 -01-13)[139]
Japan 1,235,975 as of 2 March 2010 (2010 -03-02)[140] December 10, 2005
Australia & New Zealand 1 million as of 19 April 2010 (2010 -04-19)[141] March 23, 2006
Worldwide 40 million as of 23 April 2010 (2010 -04-23)[1] (more...)

See also: History of video game consoles (seventh generation)The Xbox 360 began production only 69 days before launch.[142][143] As a result, Microsoft was not able to supply enough systems to meet initial consumer demand in Europe or North America.[144] Many potential customers were not able to purchase a console at launch. Forty thousand units appeared on eBay during the initial week of release; this was 10% of the total supply.[145] By year's end, Microsoft had shipped 1.5 million units, including 900,000 in North America, 500,000 in Europe, and 100,000 in Japan.[146]

At E3 in May 2006, Bill Gates announced that Microsoft would have a head start of 10 million units by the time Sony and Nintendo entered the market.[147] Microsoft later specified that goal and estimated shipments of 10 million units by the end of 2006.[148]

Cumulative sales from the system's launch until June 30, 2007 were predicted to reach 12 million units, down from 13 to 15 million units estimated earlier. Being released one year ahead of its competitors, the Xbox 360 was the market leader throughout the first half of 2007; however, on September 12, 2007, it was reported by the Financial Times that the Xbox 360 had been surpassed by the Wii in terms of worldwide home console sales.[149]

On October 4, 2007, after the launch of Halo 3, Microsoft stated that Xbox 360 sales had more than doubled compared to the previous average.[150] According to the NPD Group, the Xbox 360 outsold the Wii for the month of September in the United States, helped in part by the spike in sales seen after the launch of Halo 3, which sold 3.3 million copies in the US in a 12-day period.[151] The Xbox had sales of 528,000 units for September, while the Wii had sales of 501,000 units.[152]

Despite the relatively strong sales figures, Microsoft's gaming division was losing money. Through 2005, the Xbox gaming division had lost over $4 billion,[153] However, Microsoft expected the console to start making money in 2008.[154] due to a loss leader market strategy of selling consoles below cost in order to obtain market saturation and gain profits on software and peripherals with a much higher profit margin.[155][156] Additionally, Microsoft took a charge of $1 billion dollars on its June 2007 Income Statement to account for the cost of replacing bricked Xbox 360s.[157]

In Europe, the Xbox 360 sold 2 million units in 2006 and 1.9 million in 2007 according to estimates by Electronic Arts.[158][159] In 2007, the Xbox 360 sold 4.62 million units in the US according to the NPD Group,[160][161][162] and 257,841 in Japan according to Enterbrain.[163][164][165] In 2008, the Xbox 360 sold 317,859 units in Japan, according to Enterbrain.[165][166]

On February 13, 2008, Microsoft announced that the Xbox 360 suffered shortages in the US in January 2008, possibly continued into February.[167][168][169] Prior to the release of the NPD Group's video game statistics for January 2008, the Xbox 360 was in second place behind the Wii in US sales for most months since the Wii and PS3's release.[168] On May 14, 2008, Microsoft announced that 10 million Xbox 360s had been sold and that it was the "first current generation gaming console" to surpass the 10 million figure in the US.[170] In the US, the Xbox 360 was the leader in current-generation home console sales until June 2008, when it was surpassed by the Wii;[171][172][173] the Xbox 360 has sold 11.6 million units as of November 1, 2008, according to the NPD Group.[citation needed]

In the first seven months of 2008, the Xbox 360 has sold 154,000 units in Canada, being outsold by the PlayStation 3 and Wii;[136] the Xbox 360 has sold a total of 870,000 units in Canada as of August 1, 2008.[136] In Europe, the Xbox 360 has sold seven million units as of November 20, 2008, according to Microsoft.[138] In Japan, the Xbox 360 has sold 866,167 units as of December 28, 2008, according to Enterbrain.[166][174] In the United Kingdom, the Xbox 360 has sold 3.9 million units as of June 27, 2009, according to GfK Chart-Track.[139]

On May 13, 2008, Microsoft stated that there will not be a release of a newer version of the Xbox 360 in 2009. Microsoft representative says, "While we [Microsoft] don't normally comment on rumors like this [release of newer and smaller Xbox 360], we can tell you that we have no plans to release a new console in 2009".[175]

On May 28, 2009, Microsoft announced that sales have surpassed the 30-million unit-mark, stating that 2008 was Microsoft's "biggest year in history" also due to the increase of Xbox Live users.[176]

[edit] Timeline of hardware modelsEdit

U.S.

November 22, 2005

  • Launch of Xbox 360 Premium (20 GB) - $399.99
  • Launch of Xbox 360 Core - $299.99

April 29, 2007

  • Launch Xbox 360 Elite (120 GB) - $479.99[177]

August 6, 2007[69]

  • Price Cut on Xbox 360 Premium (20 GB) - $349.99
  • Price Cut on Xbox 360 Core - $279.99
  • Price Cut on Xbox 360 Elite - $449.99

October 27, 2007

  • Launch of Xbox 360 Arcade - $279.99[178]
  • Discontinuation of Xbox 360 Core

July 13, 2008[179]

  • Discontinuation of on Xbox 360 (20 GB) (Price Cut to $299.99 for remaining stock)

August 1, 2008[179]

  • Launch of Xbox 360 Premium (60 GB) - $349.99

September 5, 2008[180]

  • Price Cut on Xbox 360 Elite - $399.99
  • Price Cut on Xbox 360 (60 GB) - $299.99
  • Price Cut on Xbox 360 Arcade - $199.99

August 28, 2009

  • Discontinuation of Xbox 360 (60 GB) (Price Cut to $249.99 for remaining stock)
  • Price Cut on Xbox 360 Elite - $299.99

June 19, 2010[11]

  • Launch of Xbox 360 250 GB - $299.99
  • Discontinuation of Xbox 360 Elite (Price Cut to $249.99 for remaining stock)
  • Discontinuation of Xbox 360 Arcade (Price Cut to $149.99 for remaining stock)

[edit] Technical problemsEdit

[48][49]The Xbox 360 displaying three red lights, indicating a "general hardware failure" (often referred to as a "red ring of death")Main article: Xbox 360 technical problemsThe Xbox 360 is subject to a number of technical problems. Since the console's release in 2005, users have reported concerns over its reliability and failure rate.[181][182][183]

To aid customers with defective consoles, Microsoft extended the Xbox 360's manufacturer's warranty to three years for hardware failure problems that generate a "General Hardware Failure" error report. A "General Hardware Failure" is recognized by three quadrants of the ring around the power button flashing red. This error is often known as the "Red Ring of Death".[184] In April 2009 the warranty was extended to also cover failures related to the E74 error code.[185] The warranty extension is not granted for any other types of failures that do not generate these specific error codes.

Since these problems surfaced, Microsoft has attempted to modify the console to improve its reliability. Modifications include a reduction in the number, size, and placement of components, the addition of dabs of epoxy on the corners and edges of the CPU and GPU as glue to prevent movement relative to the board during heat expansion,[186] and a second GPU heatsink to dissipate more heat.[187] With the release of the redesigned Xbox 360 S, the warranty for the newer models do not include the three-year extended coverage for "General Hardware Failures".[188]

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