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Platform / Xbox One

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Original "VCR" model Xbox One and the original 2013–2016 design of the Xbox Wireless Controller
Xbox One S and a white 2016–2020 design Xbox Wireless Controller
Xbox One X and a black version of the 2016 revision of the controller

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The Xbox One is Microsoft's entry into The Eighth Generation of Console Video Games. It was released in North America on November 22, 2013. Its odd name, the "One", represents Microsoft's desire for the system to become an all-in-one living room entertainment system as well as aligning with Microsoft's "One" branding in many of their products. The Xbox One integrates video games with Internet video, music, and live television — a goal Microsoft had wanted to accomplish since the original Xboxnote , and which it had partially realized with the Xbox 360.

This system has considerably more power under the hood than the Xbox 360. Like the competing PlayStation 4, the Xbox One switched from a PowerPC chipset to a x86-64 chipset similar to contemporary PCs to allow for better PC ports. This had the side effect of removing hardware backwards compatibility with the original Xbox and the Xbox 360.note 

Aside from providing better graphics, the improved hardware allows for additional features such as full-fledged multitasking. The console actually runs three separate operating systems simultaneously: the first, referred to as "Xbox OS", revolves around the runtime environment for games; the second, built on the Windows NT kernelnote , handles the Dashboard and any apps that don't require native access to the hardware; the third, a version of Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization technology, allows the first two to run simultaneously. Games and apps can run side by side using a "snap" view similar to the one seen in Windows 8 — demos show a docked instance Skype or Internet Explorer to the side of the screen while someone plays a game. Microsoft has cited the software architecture as the key to future-proofing the console as it was structured from the get go to be upgradeable with new features and services while not compromising performance.

In 2015, the console was upgraded to a variant of Windows 10note  which brought, among other things, a redesigned dashboard featuring the return of the popup guide, Xbox 360 backwards compatibility via a self-contained emulator, DirectX 12 which improves both top end graphics performance and low end power efficiency, and the new Microsoft Edge web browser to replace IE. Future subsequent updates in 2016 included Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana (fittingly enough) and support for the Windows universal app platform which allows apps and lighter weight games to run on the console along with Windows PCs, phones, tablets, and other devices. This allows for a more open market for indie developers to publish games that don't require the full power of the system in a way more like a mobile app store. Other 2015 updates included a partial backwards-compatibility program for Xbox 360 games (in practice more like downloaded emulations of 360 games that can use their disc versions as DRM keys) that included the ability to play the entire Halo and Gears of War series on the same console. Support for legacy original Xbox games finally came in late 2017, to the cheer of those who has wanted the feature to play the much older games for a long timenote .

The console also features an HDMI in-port, which allows owners to use the system as a passthrough for a cable or satellite box to watch live TV. Users can seamlessly jump between playing a game and watching TV without having to change inputs — and they can engage in more interactive content with their TV through a custom channel guide, termed OneGuide, and app integration. This has also led to the Inception-style discovery that it is possible to play a PlayStation 4, or any other HDMI-out console, from within an Xbox One.

After the system's big reveal in early 2013, concerns were raised about DRM and the included-with-every-system-by-default Kinect's always-on status. The official word from Microsoft said the system would allow used games, but publishers would have to decide if they wanted to charge a fee for each re-install — and games could only be re-installed so many times before the system negated future installations. Microsoft also said it would need to keep track of what games a user had installed, so the console would have to check in with Microsoft every twenty-four hours (with some content requiring a 1-hour check in). The months leading up to the console's reveal had seen two high profile debacles brought on by always-online DRM in the form of SimCity (2013) and Diablo III, so the idea of building an entire console around the concept seemed absurd. The Kinect would also need to remain plugged into the system at all times, which would allow gamers to issue voice commands to the system and use the Kinect for other purposes (as well as allow Microsoft to mine valuable user data). Along with the $499 price tag, these factors led to increased controversy amongst gamers and the media. On top of those issues, Microsoft had planned to make the console available in a scant twenty-one countries; if you imported a console into a country where you couldn't officially buy it, the DRM would make sure it wouldn't function.

Not helping matters was Don Mattrick, one of Microsoft's executives in charge of the Xbox brand. His PR response to the system's criticisms was not handled well, with him doubling down and arrogantly telling people to buy an Xbox 360 if they didn't want to deal with the always-online DRM. While Mattrick quickly backpedaled after more backlash, the damage was done and he left Microsoft (read: was probably forced out) a couple months after the system's reveal.

After widespread ridicule from all sides (including a couple of scathing burns from Sony during its E3 2013 presentation), Microsoft eventually reversed its policy on DRM. The system no longer requires daily check-ins, used game fees, or region coding — but only after downloading a patch to disable those "features", which requires an Internet connection when setting the system up for the first time (everyone without Internet access or with slow Internet speeds gets shafted). The backtrack forced Microsoft to drop several features that its original DRM scheme would've enabled, such as loading games installed to the hard drive without the disc inserted and the ability to loan out digital copies of games.note  On August 12, 2013, Microsoft also retracted the "always-plugged-in" requirement for the Kinect. Furthermore, on May 13, 2014, Microsoft announced that it was introducing a Kinect-less SKU for $399, €399, or £349, matching the PlayStation 4, though the Kinect bundle was still sold at $499.

Another challenge facing Xbox during this generation was a lack of notable first-party games. Unlike Sony and Nintendo, who had numerous in-house development teams that could produce a steady stream of exclusive Killer Apps for their systems, Microsoft launched the One with relatively few first-party studios, having closed or sold off many former first parties like Bungie, Ensemble Studios, and Lionhead Studios. In the past, many of Microsoft's exclusives had come from second or even third-party companies. However, this practice became rarer during the 8th generation; thanks the rising overall cost of game development coupled with the decreasing difficulty of developing on multiple platforms, 3rd party developers and publishers to see Multi-Platform as the better option going forward. Not helping matters is that Sony managed to snatch away the Call of Duty marketing deal that Microsoft previously had, ensuring that the PS4 receive preferential treatment when it comes to marketing and DLC. While the Xbox One did see several well received first party titles like Forza Horizon 3, Gears of War 4, and Halo 5: Guardians, many of them technically weren't even exclusives, as they were also on Microsoft's own PC storefront and also tended to be made available via Steam. Some of Microsoft's policies during the One's early life also initially scared away developers of the increasingly growing indie scene, giving the PS4 a larger library of indie titles during the first couple years of the generation. As with the system's other perceived shortcomings, Microsoft took steps to rectify this during the later part of Xbox One's lifecycle by acquiring numerous previously-independent game developers and publishers in order to bolster their first-party portfolio, and changing their policies to make their platforms more welcoming to indie developers.

As previously mentioned, a second-generation Kinect came with every Xbox One, but later became a secondary purchase at $149.99. While the Xbox 360's Kinect relied on basic skeletal tracking, the new version improves on this by using a full 1080p sensor to read more precise details and subtle motions such as wrist rotation, musculature, and even a user's heart rate. It can now recognize six people at once instead of two, all in a smaller areanote , and with virtually no latency. Voice commands have similarly improved and now come nearly universally implemented in the system. The console can even boot up from hibernation by saying "Xbox On".

The Xbox One has deeper integration with Skype, which will take over for the existing chat system and integration with the now-defunct Windows Live Messenger that the 360 featured. An updated version of SmartGlass is available for smartphones and tablets. The use of WiFi Direct allows it to bypass a router and thus improve its performance. The controller also uses WFD note .

Microsoft later made a more evolved version of its Xbox 360 predecessor controller with refinements to ergonomics and "impulse triggers" (which contain their own vibration motors for feedback, such as recoil from a gun trigger). Whereas previous generations assigned controllers to virtual "ports", the Xbox One's optional Kinect sensor identifies each individual controller by a built-in infrared LED array. This allows for, among other things, players to switch out controllers seamlessly and split-screen games to automatically align teams/controllers based on where the players are sitting.

At E3 2016, two new models of the console were announced. The first, the Xbox One S is a simple mid-cycle redesign that is 40% smaller, contains an internal power supply, an IR blasternote , and a slight processor bump to support 4K video playback and upscaling games. The more significant of the two is the Xbox One X, released in October 2017. The best way to describe it is a PC in a console format. It offered the bleeding edge specs available in a high-end gaming PC capable of native 4K and VR, at a comparable price, while still featuring the conveniences of a console such as a living room-centric interface. With the One X, Microsoft is looking to break the tradition of console "generations". Using the Windows 10 universal app platform, Xbox One, Xbox One X, and PCs will all be able to play the same software at varying levels of performance. People who want a relatively cheap, convenient box to plug into the TV can buy the One S. People who demand bleeding edge performance and are willing to pay for it can buy a PC or One X. Additionally, Microsoft has plans to launch a pair of Windows 10 based streaming devices: a set-top box similar to an Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV, and a "stick" similar to Chromecast or Amazon Fire Stick (though these plans have since been abandoned). These will expand on their philosophy of breaking the traditional console paradigm by not only offering lighter-weight games built on the Windows universal app model, but also support streaming from an Xbox console as is already capable on Windows 10. Finally, Microsoft well and truly broke away from the console's early years by announcing that both the Kinect sensor and the adapter required to use it with the Xbox One S and X models had been discontinued, and that the company had ceased all development on any gaming applications related to the technology.

While the Xbox One wasn't a failure, it caused Microsoft to lose a lot of the market share and popularity they earned during the heyday of the Xbox 360 and vastly underperformed compared to the PlayStation 4. Microsoft stopped releasing sales numbers in 2015, but it's believed that all versions of the console sold about 50 million units combined by the end of 2019. The PS4 sold more than twice that amount while the Xbox 360 sold 84 million units. The system's lower sales are frequently attributed to the disastrous prerelease PR and lack of strong first-party exclusives. To address the lack of first-party titles, by the end of the generation Microsoft began snapping up third parties developers such as Bethesda, Double Fine, inXile Entertainment, Obsidian Entertainment, and even Activision Blizzardnote , and made sure games are their primary focus in terms of marketing.

Production of the Xbox One consoles ceased shortly after the release of their successors, the Xbox Series X|S. Despite this Microsoft continued providing software support for both the Xbox One and the Series X|S consoles simultaneously for a few years afterwards, finally announcing in June 2023 that they had ceased development of new first-party games for the system.

Technical specifications:

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    Xbox One/Xbox One S 
  • AMD "Jaguar" Accelerated Processing Unit (a CPU & GPU on a single chip), Durango variant
    • Specification is identical or similar to an AMD A9-9820 embedded processor.
    • The CPU has eight x86-64 cores (consisting of two quad-core silicon fused together) running at 1.75 GHz each.
    • The GPU chiplet, codenamed "Edmonton", contains 768 GPU shaders, running at 853 MHz, with performance rated at 1.31 TFLOPS. The Xbox One S boosts the GPU clock to 914 MHz, raising performance to 1.40 TFLOPS.
  • An undocumented ARM CPU was found on the board as well (probably to assist in security, background tasks and networking like the ARM CPU found on the PS4). It is unknown how much RAM is allocated to this CPU at this time [1]


  • 8 GB DDR3-2133 system memory with a total bandwidth of 68.3GB/s
    • 5 GB is available for games.
    • 3 GB for Operating System & Kinect.
  • The GPU has 32MB of eDRAM with a bandwidth of 102GB/s
  • 500GB, 1TB, or 2TB internal, non-removable hard drive. It can accept external hard drives as well.
  • Blu-ray drive
    • The Xbox One S has a UHD Blu-Ray drive. Previous Blu-Ray drives cannot play UHD Blu-Ray movies.


  • 1080p output standard.
    • 4K resolution with HDR support on the Xbox One S model.
  • Direct X 11.1 API support.
  • Reported performance is 12.8 gigapixels per second and 38.4 gigatexels per second.


  • 1 HDMI in port; 1 HDMI out port; 1 optical audio out port
  • 3 USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 proprietary USB 3.0-based port for Kinect
    • The Xbox One S removes this port, with a special adaptor now required to use the Kinect.
  • 802.11n Wireless with Wi-fi Direct; 1 Ethernet 10/100/1000 port
    • The Xbox One S adds support for 802.11ac Wireless.

    Xbox One X 
  • AMD "Jaguar Evolved" Accelerated Processing Unit (a CPU & GPU on a single chip)
    • The CPU has eight x86-64 cores (consisting of two quad-core silicon fused together) running at 2.3 GHz each.
    • The GPU contains 2560 GPU shaders, running at 1172 MHz, with performance rated at 6 TFLOPS. It's based on the GCN 4 "Polaris" core.
    • In games without a dedicated Xbox One X mode, half of the GPU is disabled, much like with the PS4 Pro. This still leaves roughly double the graphics power of the original and S models available to such games, however, along with improved texture filtering as standard.note 
  • Presumably the system will share the same type of secondary ARM CPU as the earlier models, though it's currently unknown whether this will be upgraded as well, or the original version will be used.


  • 12 GB GDDR5 system memory with a total bandwidth of 326GB/s
    • 9 GB is available for games.
    • 3 GB for Operating System & Kinect.
  • The system lacks any eDRAM, which is no longer necessary due to the GDDR5 system memory managing to offer even more bandwidth. 32 MB of main memory can be sectioned off to emulate eDRAM, however, for games that lack a dedicated Xbox One X mode.
  • 1TB internal, non-removable hard drive, claimed to be of 50% higher RPM compared to the ones used in the original Xbox One. It can accept external hard drives as well.
  • UHD Blu-ray drive


  • 4K output with HDR standard.
  • Direct X 11.1/12 API support.


  • 1 HDMI in port; 1 HDMI 2.1 out port; 1 optical audio out port
  • 3 USB 3.0 ports
  • 802.11ac Wireless with Wi-fi Direct; 1 Ethernet 10/100/1000 port

    Announced and released games