The Xbox 360 is a video game console developed by and produced for Microsoft that was released in 2005. The successor to the original Xbox, it is the second console in the Xbox series. The Xbox 360 competes with Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles. The Xbox 360 was officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005, with detailed launch and game information divulged later that month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).
The Xbox 360 features an online service, Xbox Live, which was expanded from its previous iteration on the original Xbox and is regarded as the strongest offering among seventh-generation consoles. The service received regular updates and is available in free and subscription-based varieties. In addition to offering online gaming, the service allows users to: download games (through Xbox Live Arcade) and game demos; purchase and stream music, television programs, and films through the Xbox Music and Xbox Video portals; and access third-party content services through media streaming applications. In addition to online multimedia features, the Xbox 360 allows users to stream media from local PCs. Several peripherals have been released, including wireless controllers, expanded hard drive storage, and the Kinect motion sensing camera. These have helped the Xbox brand grown from gaming-only to encompassing all multimedia, turning it into a hub for “living-room computing environment”.
Launched worldwide across 2005–2006, the Xbox 360 was initially in short supply in many regions, including North America and Europe. The earliest versions of the console suffered from a high failure rate, indicated by the so-called “Red Ring of Death”, necessitating an extension of the device’s warranty period. Microsoft released two redesigned models of the console: the Xbox 360 S in 2010, and the Xbox 360 E in 2013. As of October 2013, 80 million Xbox 360 consoles have been sold worldwide, making it the seventh-highest-selling video game console in history. Although not the best-selling console of its generation, the Xbox 360 was deemed by TechRadar to be the most influential through its emphasis on digital media distribution and multiplayer gaming on Xbox Live. The Xbox 360′s successor, the Xbox One, was released on November 22, 2013.
The Xbox 360 supports videos in Windows Media Video (WMV) format (including high-definition and PlaysForSure videos), as well as H.264 and MPEG-4 media. The December 2007 dashboard update added support for the playback of MPEG-4 ASP format videos. The console can also display pictures and perform slideshows of photo collections with various transition effects, and supports audio playback, with music player controls accessible through the Xbox 360 Guide button. Users may play back their own music while playing games or using the dashboard, and can play music with an interactive visual synthesizer.
Music, photos and videos can be played from standard USB mass storage devices, Xbox 360 proprietary storage devices (such as memory cards or Xbox 360 hard drives), and servers or computers with Windows Media Center or Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or higher within the local-area network in streaming mode. As the Xbox 360 uses a modified version of the UPnP AV protocol, some alternative UPnP servers such as uShare (part of the GeeXboX project) and MythTV can also stream media to the Xbox 360, allowing for similar functionality from non-Windows servers. This is possible with video files up to HD-resolution and with several codecs (MPEG-2, MPEG-4, and WMV) and container formats (WMV, MOV, TS).