The Story of Xbox documentary is out now and free to watch

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Announced during the Xbox 20th anniversary stream, Microsoft has released Power On: The Story of Xbox, a documentary series that’s free to watch via YouTube.

The documentary is split into six parts, each running around 40 minutes. The focus is on the platform’s origins and how the first Xbox came to be, but it runs from the very beginning of the Xbox’s inception, through things like Microsoft’s pitch to buy Nintendo, how the Xbox team literally stole the Windows kernel to get their console to run, the Red Ring of Death debale and more. The key to it all is that making Xbox happen was an uphill battle for the small group inside Microsoft having that were determined to bring it to life.


Chapter 1: The Renegades – A small team of upstarts sets out to convince Microsoft that it’s time to enter the console business.

Chapter 2: The Valentine’s Day Massacre – The battle to own the living room is on–but not without significant cost and risk.

Chapter 3: And It Didn’t Turn On – Public doubt intensifies as issues threaten to spoil the 2001 launch for Xbox.

Chapter 4: Cool…Now What? – A console is only as good as its games… and Xbox needs a gamechanger to survive. Enter Halo.

Chapter 5: The Red Ring of Death – The demand for Xbox 360 is at fever pitch, but a critical malfunction threatens its success.

Chapter 6: TV… or not TV? – Xbox loses its way. Can a former intern get the team back on track?

It’s an interesting look back on the console’s making, and while there’s obviously a certain rose-tinted, nostalgic view for how it all came together, but it’s also not afraid to acknowledge Microsoft’s major missteps. While we’ve not yet watched the whole thing, it’s pretty easy to see that they poke fun at themselves with recounting how they pitched to buy Nintendo and got immediately shut down, delved into the Red Ring of Death debacle that afflicted the Xbox 360’s first few years, and then how they found themselves heading down the garden path with the TV mantra from the Xbox One launch.

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