Just over eight years ago, on May 12th, 2005, Microsoft first announced the Xbox 360, less than four years after it launched the original Xbox console in the fall of 2001. It has been over eight years since the reveal of the Xbox 360 and Microsoft's scheduled announcement of the next Xbox, which happens later today.
To be totally fair Microsoft did try to freshen up the Xbox 360 with a new design in 2010, combined with the launch of the Kinect add-on in the same year. However, the new and slimmer Xbox 360 had the same hardware specifications inside.
But, eight years is a long time to wait in between major game console hardware announcements; normally the gap is between five to six years. In the time span between Microsoft's Xbox reveals, its other divisions have been quite busy launching new versions of their own flagship products. Here are just a few examples:
In between the Xbox 360 and today's next Xbox announcement, Microsoft's Windows division launched three new versions of the OS; Windows Vista in January 2007, Windows 7 in October 2009 and of course Windows 8 in October 2012. That's not even counting the ARM-designed Windows RT launch in 2012. Microsoft's Office division launched Office 2007, Office 2010 and Office 2013 in the eight years in between the Xbox 360 and next Xbox reveals. It also launched the cloud-based Office 365 in 2011.
The Internet Explorer team launched four major versions of the web browser in the last eight years: IE7 in 2006, IE8 in 2009, IE9 in 2011 and IE10 in 2012 (for Windows 8) and February 2013 (for Windows 7). Microsoft dumped Windows Mobile and launched Windows Phone 7 in 2010, with Windows Phone 8 coming in 2012, all in the span between the Xbox 360 and next Xbox reveals.
Microsoft started new businesses after the Xbox 360 was revealed, including Windows Azure in 2008 and the launch of the company's retail stores in 2009. Of course, Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates left his day-to-day responsibilities at the company in 2008, well before today's next Xbox announcement and Microsoft's entered the PC hardware business in 2012 for the first time with the Surface RT tablet launch.
Perhaps the most striking thing about Microsoft's history in the last eight years, as it relates to its Xbox business, is the launch of the Zune media player in 2006. The devices, which were developed in part by some of the people who worked to create the original Xbox, never caught on, with the hardware finally being discontinued in 2011.
Add it all up and the gap in between the Xbox 360 and today's next Xbox reveal shows a company that has evolved and changed a ton in between, with new and successful endeavors mixed with some failure. Only time will tell which of those two categories the next Xbox will fall into in the history of Microsoft.
Images via Wikipedia