This Microsoft sixth-generation video game console was was released on November 15, 2001 in North America, February 22, 2002 in Japan, and March 14, 2002 in Australia and Europe and is the predecessor to the Xbox 360. It was Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console market, and competed with Sony's PlayStation 2, Sega's Dreamcast, and the Nintendo GameCube. The integrated Xbox Live service allowed players to compete online.
The production of the Xbox's GPU was eased in August 2005, which marked the end of Xbox production and the quick release of the Xbox 360 on November 22, 2005. The Xbox 360 had superior storage, audio and video capabilities compared to the original Xbox. The Xbox was the first to wield a hard disk drive, used primarily for storing game saves and content downloaded from Xbox Live. This eliminated the need for separate memory cards (although some older consoles, such as the TurboGrafx-CD, Sega CD and Sega Saturn had featured built-in battery backup memory prior to 2001). An Xbox user could rip music from standard audio CDs to the hard drive, and these songs were used for the custom soundtracks in some games.
On November 15, 2002, Microsoft launched its Xbox Live online gaming service, allowing subscribers to play online Xbox games with other subscribers around the world and download new content directly to the system's hard drive. The online service works only with a broadband Internet connection. Approximately 250,000 subscribers signed up within two months of Xbox Live's launch. In July 2004, Microsoft announced that Xbox Live had reached one million subscribers; in July 2005, membership reached two million, and by July 2007 there were more than 3 million subscribers. By May 2009, the number had ballooned to 20 million current subscribers.