I have just finished reading “Opening The Xbox”. A very enjoyable and interesting read, especially if you have an Xbox (if you don’t have an Xbox, get one now – they are great fun). The book traces the roots of the Xbox within Microsoft – the team who first put forward the idea, how the ideas took shape, the trials and tribulations that took place on the way with software design, finance, fighting the competition, the launches, dealing with other games developers, agreeing machine specification (should it have a hard disk, should it have a modem, etc), marketing and so on.
It’s also a very interesting insight into how Microsoft works – the book covers the early meetings with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, how the team struggled with the financial model, the battle for the operating system it would use (the fight was between Windows NT (which won) and Windows CE), getting the people and resources needed to make the project viable, aligning it with Microsoft’s other plans – many of the original team didn’t make it through to the launch!
This is the second Xbox book I have read - the other is “Hacking the XBOX: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering” (both of these books were recommended by my good colleague Tony Cocks). I am not an electrical engineer, so I skipped over much of this – though I have an Xbox, I have no desire to open it up and start soldering bits to it! It is still interesting to read about how it was designed, and in particular, how the author managed to work out so many of its secrets, especially those designed to stop people making illegal modifications to it. Essential reading if you are interested in security.