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E3 06: Takahashi uncloaks 360, reveals Microsoft handheld plans

Tech writer delivers second book on Microsoft's efforts to slay console giants Sony and Nintendo; follow-up to <i>Opening the Xbox</i> is released today; two-chapter excerpt inside.


The dirt flies in Dean Takahashi's follow-up tome chronicling the efforts of software giant Microsoft to build on its success with the Xbox. The Xbox 360 Uncloaked: The Real Story Behind Microsoft's Next-Generation Video Game Console goes on sale today, and apart from it being an encyclopedic timeline of the building out and launching of the Xbox 360, there's a fair amount cheeky storytelling, much of it confirming previous speculation and much of it introducing previously unspoken anecdotes.

Takahashi is a staff writer at the San Jose Mercury News, with prior stints at Red Herring and The Wall Street Journal.

Most prominent among the speculation confirmed is the telling of Robbie Bach tasking J Allard with creating a gaming handheld to compliment the Xbox 360 home console. While the handheld initiative was later scuttled, Takahashi makes clear that the steps Microsoft took toward portable gaming were real.

Takahashi writes: Microsoft needed a game machine that was small. Bach assigned J Allard to take on this "next big thing." Doing so would make a huge statement that Microsoft was going to ship this iPod killer and that it would do it with the same precision planning that it had done with the Xbox 360. Allard would run the platform, handling the hardware, software, and services for the handheld. Bryan Lee, meanwhile, would become the chief financial officer for the entire Entertainment and Devices Group and run the handheld's business side. Peter Moore would take charge of the Xbox 360 and Windows games businesses, effectively replacing Bach in his old job.

Another anecdote concerns Allard losing a bet with Newsweek game and tech writer N'Gai Croal, wherein J would have to wear a dreadlocks wig for the entire month of May, 2006 (including on stage during the Microsoft press briefing at E3) based around J's disbelief that Sony could sell 10 million PlayStation Portables as quickly as it sold that number of PlayStation 2s--which it did, handily.

GameSpot has excerpted two chapters from the book--the first concerns the challenges the company faced in holding to its promise of a worldwide launch of the console (a promise which morphed into a three-territory release in Japan, the US, and Europe), and the second describes the Xbox 360 launch event held in the Mojave desert, outside Palmdale, California.

The book is available online today from publisher Spiderworks and will be available from in a few weeks.

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