The Xbox console is one of the icons of gaming these days, but it seems that at one point during its inception it almost never came to be. Speaking in an episode of IGN Unfiltered, the Xbox’s co-creator Ed Fries revealed that during a pitch to Microsoft, Bill Gates had initially disapproved of it and even called it an insult to the company.
As you probably know, the Xbox does not run Windows, and the meeting was to propose to Microsoft the idea of moving away from Windows to its own operating system. According to Fries, “Bill walks in, he’s holding our Powerpoint 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.”
Other Microsoft execs tried to chime in but they too got shot down and yelled at. It did not help that Microsoft’s then-CEO Steve Ballmer noted that the company would lose a lot of money in this move, but it was only until someone in the meeting brought up Sony that things started to change, as Sony had been slowly creeping into the living rooms of gamers, and obviously this is something Microsoft did not want to happen.
It’s interesting to see how things turned out the way they did. Can you imagine a world where Nintendo and Microsoft had partnered up for consoles? Or if the Xbox ran on Windows?