I remember the scrutiny that followed after Microsofts announcement to enter into the console gaming market. Nobody was all too keen on the idea of a games console that could blue-screen whenever you were in the middle of a boss fight. Microsofts answer to this: no blue screens; they’d use green instead.
When the console actually came out though things came out a bit different. Released around 18 months after the Sony PlayStation 2, alongside the Nintendo GameCube the competition looked pretty set and the XBox’s demise was imminent. Rather surprisingly however Microsoft pulled ahead of the Big N. What was expected to be a failure for MS instead turned into a greater blow to Nintendo. Of course beating the PlayStation was all but impossible, but it gave them the strong enough standing to compete long term.
The XBox of course came with the ability to connect to XBox Live, Microsofts online gaming network. XBL was pretty much the first highly successful online gaming system. modems in consoles had been around since the NES, but they had never really become mainstream. The PlayStation 2 also had internet capabilities – first as a network adapter addon and later integrated within the PSTwo/PlayStation Slimline, but it was never as successful. The GameCubes equivilent being a complete failure released as an expensive hard to get adapter which was only ever supported by 7 games, 4 of which are now unsupported.
I’ve never really played much of XBox Live on the original XBox due to network constraints and lack of money to subscribe to the service. I’ve had a couple of games of Halo 2, but that was through the 360 so I’m not entirely sure if the service worked in the same way.
Of all the reasons to use an XBox the best for me has to be homebrew apps and games. most notably XBMC. Of all my systems, XBMC is the reason that my XBox is still turned on every single day. Although its support is beginning to drop as the developers get bored of the old system, it is still the best media-player I could hope for without connecting a multimedia pc to my television. With the huge amount of customisation it looks absolutely great, and the only thing missing is the ability to really watch HD media due to system constraints, however for the ease of use its something I can forgo.