Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, He was not entirely convinced when it came to launching the Xbox. The idea of the company entering the world of consoles did not seem like the best way to go.
The then CEO of a software company I did not welcome this leap towards hardware and it was clear to both Gates and Steve Ballmer that the project was doomed. They were sure that they were going to lose money since their business was another, they said.
To define the launch of the console, there was a meeting between the two heads of the company and several employees of the project to try to convince them that this was the way to go.
On the eve of Valentine’s Day at four in the afternoon, the team is in a meeting room to show the console. Bill Gates walks in, throws the paper Xbox presentation on the table and exclaims “This is an insult to everything I have been doing in this company.”
This episode is related by himself Ed Fries, Vice President, Video Games, in a special interview in IGN Unfiltered years ago and that these days he was rescued by Steve Sinofsky —Former Microsoft executive— on Twitter.
To convince the two leaders of the company, he had spent a year working on the project with the team that had created the concept and was convinced that developing and producing the Xbox was the right decision.
And although they did not stop giving thousands of reasons to justify their entry into the market, Gates and Ballmer were firm in their position, arguing that it was too risky a gamble.
“What about Sony?”
What seemed like an administrative procedure had turned into a true odyssey. The hours passed, the postures were firm and everyone looked at their watches. “It was Valentine’s Day, most of us had plans”Fries recounts.
The situation was at a standstill and there was no way to convince the two managers. It was then that a person who had attended the meeting as an “observer” intervened. He raised his hand and asked “What about Sony?”
Microsoft’s first console became a real bestseller.
That guest, who was dedicated to writing documents and analyzing the competition, triggered the question that unlocked the conflict of interest and convinced the directors.
“Sony is gradually invading the living room. Processor on the one hand, memory on the other, hard disk on the other. If they put it all together, that could be a threat to Microsoft.“, he warned.
Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer exchanged glances and almost by magic, the director of the company said “guys, I’m going to give you everything you need. I’m going to approve the plan and let them do what they want. I will give you all the resources, They will be separated from the rest of the company so that no one interferes“.
A total success
The Xbox was the first console produced by Microsoft in collaboration with Intel and Nvidia. It was developed to compete against Sony’s PlayStation 2, but also Nintendo’s Gamecube and Sega’s Dreamcast.. It was launched on the market on November 15, 2001.
One of the main characteristics was that it maintained a philosophy similar to that of computers, since it accepted any hardware. Its controls are its analog triggers, which would soon be adopted by Sony in the Sixasis and DualShock 3.
According to the official data of the company, It sold over 24 million units and was a true revolution for home entertainment.