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The Scoop on the Xbox 360's Embedded OS?

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the what-could-it-be-man dept.

XBox (Games) 504

An anonymous reader writes "When the Xbox 360 was launched two weeks ago amid much brouhaha over its custom-designed IBM PowerPC-based CPU with 3 symmetrical cores running at 3.2GHz each, WindowsForDevices.com wondered aloud, 'What OS runs inside the Xbox 360?' Now, the website thinks it has found the answer to its question. No, it's not Linux or BSD, nor a derivative of Longhorn or Windows CE."

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Wow (5, Funny)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634700)

It's Windows 2000. What a shock, who would've guessed, I'm so exci..... ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Re:Wow (4, Informative)

rovingeyes (575063) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634751)

I take it that you didn't even bother to RTFA. It says it has roots in windows 2000 but it is NOT windows 2000, a derivative may be but NOT windows 2000.

Re:Wow (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634763)

It's Windows 2000 with some of the cruft removed.

The kernel is Windows 2000.

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

KillerDeathRobot (818062) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634986)

According to the article, the XBox OS was Windows 2000 with 95% of it removed or heavily altered. Now the XBox 360 will run the XBox OS heavily altered and ported to a new architecture. It hardly counts as Windows 2000 any more.

Re:Wow (3, Funny)

NinjaFarmer (833539) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634841)

I take it that you didn't even bother to RTFA. It says it has roots in windows 2000 but it is NOT windows 2000, a derivative may be but NOT windows 2000.
So why don't you just come out and say they are using windows XP?

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12634857)

windows 2000 for xbox with NT4 SP3

seriously I guess its easy enough for them to port win2k to the power arch. especially since the architecture is pretty fixed for all the components in and around the x360x

Re:Wow (5, Interesting)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634929)

I guess its easy enough for them to port win2k to the power arch
Given the modular VMS-like core that's at the heart of WinNT, I wouldn't be surprised if it was fairly easily ported to a lot of architectures. Then, as you say, if you only need a limited set of device drivers, you're well on your way to having a full OS.

Re:Wow (5, Insightful)

gstovall (22014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635002)

Well, since Microsoft used to sell WinNT for PowerPC (I used to have a few of the machines), and Win2K is just an update of WinNT, I presume it was pretty trivial for them to do this.

Re:Wow (-1, Offtopic)

Rollie Hawk (831376) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634792)

Why is the first post modded as redundant?

Re:Wow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12634935)

Why are you moderated as offtopic?

Re:Wow (-1, Offtopic)

Rollie Hawk (831376) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634971)

I think someone missed the point. I acknowledge my comment was off-topic. That said, it is by definition impossible for the very first comment to be redundant.

Re:Wow (1)

turtled (845180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634980)

Aparently, no one read this article... the Xbox1 runs an OS derived from Win2000... they have absolutly NO IDEA what it will be for 360; only speculation to a port of Longhorn.

What happened???... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12634703)

I could not enter to the READ MORE section for some time...

Re:What happened???... (1)

Rollie Hawk (831376) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635034)

And yet you managed to post this within a minute of the article being published.

FP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12634704)

WOO HOO!

My question is. . . (4, Insightful)

Nomihn0 (739701) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634707)

Will this compromise hackability?

Re:My question is. . . (1)

Waltre (523056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634837)

Not really, if you can get to the BIOS (probably) who cares what the default OS is.

Re:My question is. . . (0, Flamebait)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634838)

Of course. The funny thing about the Xbox is that it's exactly like DOS was. When I first entered the computer industry, my 'mentor' told me, "The reason everyone used DOS was 'cause you could just copy it and pirate the thing all the time." I don't own an X-box, but the only reason I even CONSIDERED buying one was because if I did I could do what my friend did - rent five games and rip them all. Thus Microsoft profited when they sold him the Xbox, but all the game vendors and developers lost out.

Skip forward four or five years, and Xbox2 comes out. It's a lot harder to hack, (probably close to impossible) and, well, you're going to have to go online to play most games (and almost certainly all the Msoft games) from the specs, so uh... yeah. You have to pay. I hope Xbox2 falls flat on its face, but Microsoft has learned in the home entertainment game, just like they did in the PC game.

Isn't that neat?

Re:My question is. . . (1, Informative)

JeffSh (71237) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634996)

actually, all consoles are sold at a loss.. everyone makes the money on the software.

Microsoft made no money from selling a single xbox.. Maybe later in the production run after component costs fall, but certainly not in the first year.

Re:My question is. . . (5, Informative)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635045)

XBox was a 400$+ Million Loss Leader.

Anyone else know how to spell 'monopoly'?

Re:My question is. . . (2, Interesting)

KillerDeathRobot (818062) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635026)

Thus Microsoft profited when they sold him the Xbox, but all the game vendors and developers lost out.

Actually, Microsoft probably didn't profit from the sale of that Xbox, and in fact renting the titles probably did contribute something to the vendors.

Re:My question is. . . (1, Insightful)

PyWiz (865118) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635039)

Thus Microsoft profited when they sold him the Xbox, but all the game vendors and developers lost out.

On the contrary, I was told that MS actually sold the xbox console at a loss hoping to make up lost revenues with licensing fees for games.

And just for the record, this is exactly what they did. The amount of pirating that goes on with console games is FAR lower than the amount that goes on with PC games, yet PC game giants like Blizzard and Valve are still going strong. Why? Because they sell the software for such a huge profit (you pay $40 for something it costs them less than a cent to make) that even if 90% of their games are pirated, they still come out ahead. (Yes, I know development costs a lot but making the physical copies costs next to nothing)

Re:My question is. . . (5, Interesting)

Jozer99 (693146) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634865)

What would you run on it? The XBox was cobbled together from basically off the shelf hardware. 4 years down the line, and we still haven't gotten everything working with Linux yet. The XBox 360 has NO OFF THE SHELF HARDWARE. You would need to reverse engineer the processor, graphics processor, RAM, filesystem, and system bus, not to mention audio, usb and IR controllers. I won't even go into the rights management system, which I imagine can only be stronger than on the original XBox (2048 bit encryption key needed to boot the XBox 1) Then you would have to write your own APIs and compilers for accessing said devices. I don't think the OS is the biggest problem in terms of hackability right now.

Re:My question is. . . (1)

0kComputer (872064) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634884)

actually an interesting question. Now that they are putting so many more apps on these systems, including a web browser from what i hear, mp3 playback etc.... Wont that open up exploits for virus writers and hackers? Imagine an xbox exploit, that would be pretty scary getting hit with a DDOS from 10 million XBOXEN

PICTURE OF THE XB360 SOFTWARE EULA (-1, Troll)

arothstein (233805) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634709)

SHOVED UP MY FUCKING ASS

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/______\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)__[==]_|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\______/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_


Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Three letters... (5, Funny)

Waltre (523056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634712)

DOS

First Power chips on the X-box (5, Funny)

G27 Radio (78394) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634714)

What's next? Next thing you know Apple will start using Intel chips instead. Strange days. :)

Re:First Power chips on the X-box (1)

HAKdragon (193605) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634769)

You mean like they do on their gigabit ethernet ports?

(I know you were just kidding, but :-P anyway)

First Power Chips in Chinese Missile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12634847)

Microsoft should be required to get an export license before shipping these game machines to China [phrusa.org] . Of course, the Commerce Department should deny the license on the grounds of national security.

The embedded technology in these game machinese have direct application to the guidance systems in intercontinental ballastic missiles (ICBMs). Beijing is currently in the midst of an aggressive program to modernize the Chinese military. The Chinese are eager to improve the accuracy of their ICBMs aimed at the USA.

Rumor as News meme (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12634724)

I for one am glad that /. has caught the MSM meme of rumor as news. Please inform me when Roland Piquepaille gets a pentagon day pass.

Re:Rumor as News meme (0)

MankyD (567984) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634816)

One day we complain that /. reports week-old news. The next we complain that it's reporting on rumors and unconfirmed reports. Honestly people!

Re:Rumor as News meme (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634819)

At least Piquepaille's rumors are interesting.

This is just "Microsoft choose Microsoft OS on Microsoft platform." Surely, even the anally retentive hardcore gaming "my GPU has 1 FPS more than yours" wankers can't possibly be interested in this non-event?

Having said that, never underestimate the pointlessness of the existence of anally retentive hardcore gaming wankers.

It runs a stripped-down Windows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12634726)

duh! everyone knew that? Who really thought it ran anything else?

PowerPC vs Intel (3, Interesting)

Virtual Karma (862416) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634732)

Apple (Mac OS X) runs on PowerPC chips from IBM. But now they are planning to Intel platform. PC (windows) runs on Intel platform, but XBox 360 uses PowerPC. My question is simple. WHY???

Re:PowerPC vs Intel (1)

City Jim 3000 (726294) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634790)

Because, one chip is better (cost/performance) for some appliances?

It's really that simple.

Re:PowerPC vs Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12634806)

The Intel "chips" Apple are moving to are are not processors. There are "chips" other than CPUs in case you hadn't noticed.

Re:PowerPC vs Intel (2, Insightful)

rokzy (687636) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634862)

Apple is NOT going to use intel x86 processors.

MS use PPC because it's better, in this case because of its lower heat output. they can do this because a console is designed mostly from scratch so components can be chosen on their qualities. with general computing, there's so much investment in x86 that a lot of people have to go with it whether its crap or not. just like many people have to go with Windows and Office even though they wouldn't consider touching it if they were working from a clean slate.

OMG OSX!! (-1, Redundant)

JFlex (763276) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634733)

THANK THE GOOD LORD!

Windows 3.11?? (3, Funny)

SilentBob4 (805119) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634736)

How can they run an XBox on Windows 3.11?? I just don't get it... Will we be required to add TCP/IP on our own if we wish to play over the network?

Re:Windows 3.11?? (1)

Spodlink05 (850651) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634791)

How can they run an XBox on Windows 3.11??

They can't, just like on the PC.

Re:Windows 3.11?? (1)

SilentBob4 (805119) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634807)

Good point ;)

Launched? (3, Insightful)

dq5 studios (682179) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634742)

I can go buy it in stores? I think you mean debuted.

BSOD or RSOD ? (1)

guyfromindia (812078) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634744)

Really, the best way to think of it is as "The Xbox 360 OS." But if you really have to think of it in Windows terms, you could say it has roots in Windows 2000 by way of the original Xbox, albeit with sweeping changes along the way.
Wonder whether it will display 'blue screen of death' or the newly upgraded 'red screen of death'!!! http://news.com.com/2061-10805-5703006.html [com.com]

Windows 2000 with lots hacked off... (1)

Claws Of Doom (721684) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634752)

...and lots of changes? *starts* Oh dear god! It's Windows ME!

Re:Windows 2000 with lots hacked off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12634855)

"It's Windows ME!"

That's so sick you should be banned for even thinking about it!

Heathens! (0, Redundant)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634762)

They dare to mock the sacred name of Linux!

Quite honestly, there's very little story here. The XBox ran a stripped down version of Windows 2000, and the XBox 360 will run a modified version of that.

At least until someone hacks the machine.

Re:Heathens! (3, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634794)

I think it's interesting because, if W2K is good enough for the 360, the latest and greatest console in the world, it's still good enough for everyone else.

Re:Heathens! (2, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634964)

And everyone else is using it, too. W2K is NT 5.0. XP is NT 5.1.

HOLY CRAP MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12634878)

He just invoked Linux and the lame security measures of a M$ product in one comment. This guy should be modded into oblivion plus get /.'s first oscar.

Re:Heathens! (1)

Ecko7889 (882690) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634880)

They dare to mock the sacred name of Linux!

Wait until the day where $#%^&*@ [Slashdot censorsed it, I Swear....] can't be said anymore, due to the overpowering strength of LINUX! *Evil Laugh*

Huh. (4, Informative)

PsychicX (866028) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634770)

All that fuss to say it's a simple derivative of NT, in its second generation of console-ness.


That was certainly a surprise. Oh wait, no it wasn't.

IBM is making out well (5, Insightful)

1967mustangman (883255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634771)

They are making the PowerPC for the Xbox and the Cell for the new Playstation. It seems like they will be the real winner in the next round of game wars.

Re:IBM is making out well (4, Insightful)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634853)

Don't forget that they're making the processor for the new Nintendo machine. 3 for 3 in the console department.

Re:IBM is making out well (1)

1967mustangman (883255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634886)

Hatrick!

Re:IBM is making out well (2, Funny)

Ham_belony (820906) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635019)

IBM sticks with what it is best at. And the saying if you can not beat them join them applies very well here. With the powerpc division and cell processor hitting it off again, they generate a lot of revenue to maybe go for the personal desktops again and take out intel completely.

Re:IBM is making out well (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635021)

I must say that they do seem to have all bets covered and are well prepared to continue making money as we move into a post PC era. I wonder why Intel didn't play a little harder to get a piece of the pie? This may actually say a lot about the state of Intel's relationship with Microsoft too. Maybe some of this is payback for Intel's Linux support and now we hear that Apple and Intel are starting to make nice too! Oh what an interesting world.

What OS? (3, Interesting)

stecoop (759508) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634781)

The OS any machine runs is become irrelevant. I want a base OS that can run virtual machines and whatever runs on top as a Virtual OS doesn't really really matter. Similar to how Mac and OSX runs but without any legacy core that can interfere. With MS, they have the Virtual Machine on top of Windows yet if they made the Virtual Machine the OS and the run windows or whatever that would be the best of both worlds. Don't like Windows great it will run Linux, Symbian, Palm whatever and who cares lets just get the Virtual Machine running. Hm Sounds like Sun needs to extend Java to run Virtual Machines rather than running on an OS and that could complete a Virtual Machine.

Re:What OS? (2, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634976)

Then go buy a computer. This is about a video games console.

Re:What OS? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635035)

Buy yourself an IBM Mainframe.

Re:What OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12635040)

Check out VMWARE GSX

Just wait... (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634797)

Just wait some months and you will see how the baked potato box will indeed run the !#$%&@ OS =o)

Oh man, I wish it would be..... (0)

theskullboy (738616) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634804)

BeOS...hands down the coolest dead OS ever!

Boo! (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634810)

After reading TFA, what is the answer?

Chopped up version of the old Xbox OS.

Yay. What a ground breaking revelation.
I want my money back!

-d

Faeries... (5, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634820)

My guess is faeries. They captured a whole mess of them and have chained them to tiny little switchboards in the machine. I was going to say leprachauns, but the extra gold they carry around would make the machines too heavy.

Re:Faeries... (1)

wild_berry (448019) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634965)

Although forcibly removing the gold from the leprechauns (think of the shareholders!!! do they do anything but think of the shareholders?!?) was an option discussed in design meetings. However, they would need to get Ballmer to monkey-dance continuously to achieve this. Steve isn't getting any younger, and it would pose too great a risk to his planned retirement at his Volcano Hide-Away Lair.

what? (0, Redundant)

utexaspunk (527541) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634828)

what- do they think we're actually going to look at the article to find out? pshah!

What a letdown! (4, Insightful)

saintp (595331) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634835)

I was hoping it'd be something incredible and barely believable, like OS X or BeOS or Plan 9. But no, it's just a derivative of the original XBox OS. Weak. All that suspense for almost nothing. This story is worse than the ending of Citizen Kane, when "Rosebud" turned out to be his sled.

Re:What a letdown! (5, Funny)

ghoti (60903) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634940)

Thanks for ruining that movie for me, you insensitive clod!

Re:What a letdown! (2, Funny)

lewp (95638) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634973)

He just saved you two long, boobless hours.

Re:What a letdown! (2, Interesting)

seffala (134325) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634942)

You insensitive clod!

I *was* watching Citizen Kane...now, what's the point?

Re:What a letdown! (-1, Flamebait)

Epistax (544591) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634988)

Err actually rosebud refers to one of Orson Welles' many consort's genitalia. It just had to be put in a movie.

/Not Kidding
//The More You Know

Re:What a letdown! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12634997)

Good point! How the hell is that boring, boring, boring film a "classic"?

Re:What a letdown! -- *Spoiler Alert* (0, Offtopic)

blueturffan (867705) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635010)

"This story is worse than the ending of Citizen Kane, when "Rosebud" turned out to be his sled."

Thanks for spoiling the ending of the movie for those of us that haven't had a chance to see it yet.

Re:What a letdown! (0)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635036)

"This story is worse than the ending of Citizen Kane, when "Rosebud" turned out to be his sled."

Yeah, it was an okay film but it wasn't in the ranks of really great filmmaking like The Matrix was, eh?

Mac! (2, Interesting)

coop0030 (263345) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634872)

I was hoping that it would have been a derivative of Mac OS X. Now that would have been a story worth reading (if true).

Could you imagine Microsoft getting in bed with Apple. ewww...

Re:Mac! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12634974)

How would that work? Which bits would fit into each other bits?

Or are they so up themselves (literally) that they're asexual?

DevKits (4, Interesting)

BenBenBen (249969) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634879)

Seeing how the DevKits were G5 boxes, wouldn't it be a good idea to look at the OS they were running?

From a hackability POV, it's the BIOS that really matters. The original xbox had the BIOS hidden in the VGA chip (or was it the Southbridge? Can't remember) but once Bunnie Huang scoped the buses everything was lost. I think we can expect to see some fairly high grade encryption at work in both the POST and code signing arenas.

So Is This What Microsoft Means (1)

ultimabaka (864222) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634887)

When it sez "partial backwards compatibility with XBox games"?

I mean, the XBox 360 has parts of the XBox OS, and that's all it needs to run certain XBox games...right?

Jeez.

Re:So Is This What Microsoft Means (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635032)

no, "partially backwards compatible" is just another way of saying "incompatible". when it comes to telling the truth or sounding good, what do you expect from MS (or most businesses)?

The server's dying... (2, Informative)

joeykiller (119489) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634891)

...so here's the article text:

When the Xbox 360 was launched two weeks ago amid much brouhaha over its custom-designed IBM PowerPC-based CPU with 3 symmetrical cores running at 3.2GHz each, WindowsForDevices.com wondered aloud, "What OS runs inside the Xbox 360?"

We offered a few alternatives and called on our readers for their ideas on the subject. Now, we think we have the answer to our question.

But first, a bit of background.

As we stated in our previous story on this topic, the earlier Xbox (shown at right) was based on a Pentium-family processor and was said to run a variant of Windows 2000. But the new Xbox 360 has a completely different architecture, based on a custom triple-core IBM PowerPC processor along with other specialty silicon including a custom graphics processor made by ATI, plus 512MB of system DRAM (see table of specs at the bottom of this article).

Since neither Windows XP nor Windows CE supports the PowerPC architecture (Windows hasn't supported PowerPC architecture since Windows NT 4.0 SP3), we devised the following set of alternatives for the Xbox 360's embedded OS:
A hitherto unpublicized port by Microsoft of Windows XP or Windows CE to the PowerPC

A version of some off-the-shelf embedded OS, possibly even a variant of BSD Unix or #%$@& (sorry, our censors deleted the "L-word")

A new embedded software platform developed specifically for Xbox use
And the OS is...

So, which is it -- choice 1, choice 2, or choice 3?

Our readers had some interesting comments, ranging from a derivative of the "yet to be released Longhorn" to "a ported Win XP kernel" to "its own private OS that was built from the ground up for gaming." And, to no one's surprise, nobody seemed to think Microsoft would embed BSD or "#%$@&" inside its Xbox!

We also asked fellow editor and ExtremeTech technology analyst Jason Cross (and self-described "certified geek") whether he had turned up anything about the Xbox's embedded OS while he was at E3 2005. There, we seem to have struck gold. "Yes," Cross replied, he had indeed uncovered some interesting tidbits in conversations with folks both inside and outside of Microsoft. Here's what he told us . . .

The original Xbox ran an OS that had its roots in Windows 2000. Granted, by the time you strip out everything that is not needed in a console like the Xbox and replace some of the parts with stuff specific to that device (like the file system), and add a few pieces, it hardly resembles anything remotely like Windows 2000 at all. But you could say that's where its original roots lie, even if 95 percent of it has been cut or heavily altered.

The Xbox 360's OS, in turn, has its roots in the OS of the original Xbox. I've been told (not by Microsoft, but by one of its hardware partners) that the Xbox absolutely positively does NOT run Linux [oops, the censors missed that one --Ed.] or Unix or some variant of that. The Xbox 360 project started with the Xbox OS the same way the Xbox project started with Windows 2000. They cut, added, and changed it in both large and small ways. It's now quite a bit different from the Xbox OS, which was itself quite a bit different from Windows 2000.

Really, the best way to think of it is as "The Xbox 360 OS." But if you really have to think of it in Windows terms, you could say it has roots in Windows 2000 by way of the original Xbox, albeit with sweeping changes along the way.

So there you have it: the Xbox 360 reportedly runs a second-order derivative of Windows 2000 that has been ported to the custom triple-core IBM PowerPC processor. Well, that's what we think, anyhow.

Why does it matter?

Bear in mind, Microsoft has big plans for the home -- plans that include media center PCs, family entertainment centers, TV set-top boxes, portable media players, mobile phones, and, of course, gaming devices.

Considering that the Xbox 360 represents a powerful new computing platform that will be finding its way into tens of millions of homes, it seems likely that Microsoft will attempt to leverage the device to extend its reach throughout the home, offering a wide range of capabilities and services. As a case in point, Microsoft already offers an upgrade kit that turns the earlier version of the Xbox into a Media Center Extender in support of Media Center PCs.

Hence, the Xbox 360 appears likely to become a hardware/software platform that will host a multitude of Microsoft and third-party upgrades, add-ons, and applications -- consisting of both software and hardware products. All of which means the Xbox 360's embedded software platform may soon be a software platform that developers need to learn about, and use.

Re:The server's dying... (1)

CokoBWare (584686) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635011)

What I think is interesting is that original dev kits for XBox 360 were said to be bastardized and enhanced versions of Windows NT 4.0 running on a G5 box.

Why anyone doesn't think that this is probably the case is beyond me. Why would I write an OS if I could use one that had a lot of what I needed? Strip down NT 4 and give it a nice overhaul to work with your sole hardware spec. Seems to make sense to me. I think the developer quoted probably felt the features of the XBox 360 OS were derivative of the XBox OS, but that probably it. Sure it probably doesn't even resemble NT 4, but I think it has more roots in NT 4 than it does in 2000 or even XBox on a technical level.

I feel most comfortable guessing that the OS on the 360 is an NT4/Xbox hybrid...

Re:The server's dying... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12635029)

(-1, B1TCH)

X-Office?? (1)

HaydnH (877214) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634897)

If it runs a cut down version of Win 2k, perhaps MS should've made an x-box version of Office. In hardware terms all you'd need is a compatible keyboard/mouse and printer and your off - not sure how 'cut down the OS is though and wheter they'd need to put a bit back in.

MS might lose a bit in OS sales, but surely they'd easily make up for that with x-box & x-printer sales? Office sales might even benefit slighlty aswell considering the amount of non-chipped (non-copy compliant) x-boxes out there versus the amount of people that have pirated copies for their PC.

Haydn.

Nice Advertisement shill for MS (1)

SirLanse (625210) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634905)

The article had nothing of worth. It was just an advertisement dressed up to look like news. Now slashdot is shilling for Microsoft too. WOW!

Coral Cache (2, Informative)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634912)

Site was dead for me, so Coral Link [nyud.net] .

Big deal? (1)

Jozer99 (693146) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634913)

Whats the big deal? The console needs an OS, but it does not really matter which it has, since the game runs most of its own stuff, and the OS is used for relatively little compaired to a general purpose PC. So, the Xbox people had a choice. And since they DO WORK for Microsoft, why not use a kernel based on their OS? A modified NT kernel makes as much sense as a Linux or BSD kernel, and this way they do not have to buy expensive IDE kits and learn new stuff, they can use MS's inhouse expertese and software.

For better or worse? (1)

Ham_belony (820906) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634922)

First stripped down a win2000 OS and then completely rewrite that code to support the powerpc platform, that is to say, a custom designed powerpc. I think they just completely rewrote the OS with no roots anywhere at all. They don't need to use older code or os's now, they have had sufficient experience with the old xbox, where they had to start off with old code, even if it is stripped down to reduce development time for the product. But meanwhile like microsoft always worked, they start with crap until it generates sufficient revenue and start over with the next version that comes around. I don't think they are going about it like they used to using old code and putting it in a new jacket.

Speculation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12634924)

Slashdot comments speculating on a article of speculation that is probably also slashdotted. Oh, I feel informed now ;)

Xbox exploits? (1)

neuro.slug (628600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634937)

I ask this question with full sincerity: Are we going to see people writing malware for Xboxes? It's connected to the internet, and it's running Windows. What more could you possibly need? I could imagine that it probably doesn't support ports 80, 25, etc. but it could happen..

-- n

coral cache (1)

castlec (546341) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634948)

i managed to get coral cache to load it before total failure :o)
mirror [nyud.net]

No, it's not Linux or BSD (0)

epaton (884617) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634952)

yet

Site already slowing down! (0, Redundant)

nubbie (454788) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634953)

May 24, 2005

When the Xbox 360 was launched two weeks ago amid much brouhaha over its custom-designed IBM PowerPC-based CPU with 3 symmetrical cores running at 3.2GHz each, WindowsForDevices.com wondered aloud, "What OS runs inside the Xbox 360?"

We offered a few alternatives and called on our readers for their ideas on the subject. Now, we think we have the answer to our question.

But first, a bit of background.

As we stated in our previous story on this topic, the earlier Xbox (shown at right) was based on a Pentium-family processor and was said to run a variant of Windows 2000. But the new Xbox 360 has a completely different architecture, based on a custom triple-core IBM PowerPC processor along with other specialty silicon including a custom graphics processor made by ATI, plus 512MB of system DRAM (see table of specs at the bottom of this article).

Since neither Windows XP nor Windows CE supports the PowerPC architecture (Windows hasn't supported PowerPC architecture since Windows NT 4.0 SP3), we devised the following set of alternatives for the Xbox 360's embedded OS:

1. A hitherto unpublicized port by Microsoft of Windows XP or Windows CE to the PowerPC

2. A version of some off-the-shelf embedded OS, possibly even a variant of BSD Unix or #%$@& (sorry, our censors deleted the "L-word")

3. A new embedded software platform developed specifically for Xbox use

And the OS is...

So, which is it -- choice 1, choice 2, or choice 3?

Our readers had some interesting comments, ranging from a derivative of the "yet to be released Longhorn" to "a ported Win XP kernel" to "its own private OS that was built from the ground up for gaming." And, to no one's surprise, nobody seemed to think Microsoft would embed BSD or "#%$@&" inside its Xbox!

We also asked fellow editor and ExtremeTech technology analyst Jason Cross (and self-described "certified geek") whether he had turned up anything about the Xbox's embedded OS while he was at E3 2005. There, we seem to have struck gold. "Yes," Cross replied, he had indeed uncovered some interesting tidbits in conversations with folks both inside and outside of Microsoft. Here's what he told us . . .

The original Xbox ran an OS that had its roots in Windows 2000. Granted, by the time you strip out everything that is not needed in a console like the Xbox and replace some of the parts with stuff specific to that device (like the file system), and add a few pieces, it hardly resembles anything remotely like Windows 2000 at all. But you could say that's where its original roots lie, even if 95 percent of it has been cut or heavily altered.

The Xbox 360's OS, in turn, has its roots in the OS of the original Xbox. I've been told (not by Microsoft, but by one of its hardware partners) that the Xbox absolutely positively does NOT run Linux [oops, the censors missed that one --Ed.] or Unix or some variant of that. The Xbox 360 project started with the Xbox OS the same way the Xbox project started with Windows 2000. They cut, added, and changed it in both large and small ways. It's now quite a bit different from the Xbox OS, which was itself quite a bit different from Windows 2000.

Really, the best way to think of it is as "The Xbox 360 OS." But if you really have to think of it in Windows terms, you could say it has roots in Windows 2000 by way of the original Xbox, albeit with sweeping changes along the way.

So there you have it: the Xbox 360 reportedly runs a second-order derivative of Windows 2000 that has been ported to the custom triple-core IBM PowerPC processor. Well, that's what we think, anyhow.

Why does it matter?

Bear in mind, Microsoft has big plans for the home -- plans that include media center PCs, family entertainment centers, TV set-top boxes, portable media players, mobile phones, and, of course, gaming devices.

Considering that the Xbox 360 represents a powerful new computing platform that will be finding its way into tens of millions of homes, it seems likely that Microsoft will attempt to leverage the device to extend its reach throughout the home, offering a wide range of capabilities and services. As a case in point, Microsoft already offers an upgrade kit that turns the earlier version of the Xbox into a Media Center Extender in support of Media Center PCs.

Hence, the Xbox 360 appears likely to become a hardware/software platform that will host a multitude of Microsoft and third-party upgrades, add-ons, and applications -- consisting of both software and hardware products. All of which means the Xbox 360's embedded software platform may soon be a software platform that developers need to learn about, and use.

Win 2k Is already ppc ported (3, Interesting)

Lucractius (649116) | more than 9 years ago | (#12634977)

As anyone with a passion for other and more esoteric platforms will (or should) know.

Windows NT existed on a number of different architectures other than Intel x86, Including MIPS, Alpha, and PowerPC, in versions 3.5 3.51 and 4.0.

The final point to make is that when the work began on Windows 2000, the entire OS was done. The full NT5 beta available from the MSDN when it was released. Did indeed include a PowerPC version as well as the others. ( at least one beta did as far as i can confirm from my discourses with other "wisened veterans" (no mater what their age) of the MS oses. )

The effort involved in MS porting the NT 5 kernel and other systems to the Xbox 360 would have been totaly comparable to the effort needed to strip and optimise the nt 5 core for the Xbox. Which is in fact a very impressive degree of refinement over the original os when you examine the finer details.

( My other boxes are FreeBSD and Solaris so dont dare call me a MS fan, XP is for my games only case wine isnt good enough and i pray it catches up sooner. )

missing option (2, Funny)

John Macdonald (40981) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635001)

The obvious answer hasn't been mentioned yet: OS\360 (especially since it is running on an IBM processor).

Dev's Already Jumping Ship (1, Troll)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635020)

"yesterday development company Factor 5 helped Sony fire another blow to Microsoft's camp by declaring allegiance to the Playstation 3. President Julian Eggebrecht told News.com that the Playstation 3 offered more processing power to more easily simulate the real world for a better game experience. The company had previously stated that it would work on the Xbox 360."

No matter what hype they spin, developers have been grumbling about the Xbox 360 design from day one as the specs were released, and now dev's are already giving up on it before it even begins! It is going to be a bear to program for (on par with the Saturn/PS2), (as can be seen from the amount already running on PS3 which is farther behind in production) So far the only thing to be said for the Xbox is by RARE (who MS bought out for Kameo, which has been scrapped twice) and all they have said is how many characters they can get onscreen at once... Yawn. The graphics look like PS2 or mid-high PC at best.

Quoth the article (2, Funny)

jabber01 (225154) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635031)

"The original Xbox ran an OS that had its roots in Windows 2000. Granted, by the time you strip out everything that is not needed in a console like the Xbox and replace some of the parts with stuff specific to that device (like the file system), and add a few pieces, it hardly resembles anything remotely like Windows 2000 at all. "

So, in other words, it runs DOS 5.1

You're all wrong. It's actually OS/2 WARP! (4, Funny)

netglen (253539) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635038)

That's right, the OS is actually MS's old friend OS/2 WARP.

DUH. (2, Interesting)

News for nerds (448130) | more than 9 years ago | (#12635042)

Who, except for /. crowd, expects Microsoft adopts Linux for one of their strategic pieces? Windows has the HAL that can absorb hardware differences, so there's no room for Linux and the like.
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