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home : articles : Microsoft X-Box Analysis

Joe Glass
March 12, 2000

Microsoft X-Box Analysis
Will the Microsoft X-Box be a Playstation 2 killer?

(This article is based on all the given information on Microsoft's X-Box and rumors from various sources on the Internet that may not necessarily be factual. Specifications and comments are forward looking statements that could change over time. The presented article analizes present and future market trends based on information currently available.)

Microsoft shook the console world this month when they dealt their X-Box at GDC 2000. We all read the rumors about Microsoft's plan months before, but who would have thought Microsoft would make such a bold step? PC users say the X-Box wouldn't measure up to PCs. Console users say the X-Box would be too much like a PC. Both parties dropped their jaws at Microsoft's GDC presentation. They showcased an early production unit shaped as a big shiny metal X with a green circle. This unassuming box had a Pentium III 600 mhz CPU and NV15 GPU powering the graphics. Even with a "slow" NV15, the X-Box demos managed to wow the on lookers.

Can Microsoft do it?
Many people question Microsoft's ability to produce the X-Box. Case in point: Microsoft Windows isn't generally well known for being a stable product. Conversely, from a financial standpoint, Microsoft is more than capable in funding the research and development costs for producing the X-Box. All the technology required to leverage all the features and performance standards already set by existing consoles such as SEGA's Dreamcast and SONY's Playstation 2 is staggering. How can Microsoft climb such an insurmountable hill? Microsoft's design strategy is simple. Implement existing technology already in place in the PC world and migrate them into their product. This involves using their operating system technology popularly known as Windows and all the underlying APIs such as DirectX. Programming would be a non-issue since existing development can be done using familiar PC development tools. There lessons the learning curve. And since the system is static to Microsoft's specifications, stability and performance can be tweaked in a predictable fashion. This can't be said for PCs.

The question now is, "Can Microsoft do it alone?"

To use existing PC technology is a double edged sword. Since the PC architecture is an open standard, the architecture is literally defined by the sum of its parts. Mainstream CPUs are manufactured by Intel and AMD. PCI, USB, VGA, and other standards are, for example, defined by a consortium of companies working in cooperation. To create a console based on PC components requires the close cooperation of select third party companies. These companies would need to supply components that meet stringent predefined specifications.

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