by Joseph Leray
The next time you're a party, dazzle friends and potential love interests with your arcane knowledge of Microsoft obscuria: the original Xbox was almost called, among other the things, the FACE, which stood for Full Action Center.
In an interview with Edge Magazine, Seamus Blackley -- who helped pitch, design, and create the Xbox -- explains that the naming process happened in three states: code names, car names, and acronyms
“First, there were our code names, which were WEP – ‘Windows Entertainment Project’ – designed to make Microsoft executives comfortable, Midway – ‘Midway between a PC and a console or ‘Battle of Midway’ – you decide" he says.
"The WEP" is an obviously terrible name for a console, and while the Microsoft Midway has a certain alliterative ring to it, Midway Games was still alive (though maybe not well) in the late 90's and early aughts. The "NFL Blitz" and "Mortal Kombat" developer officially went bankrupt in 2009.
Microsoft then rallied the troops and tried vehicle-inspired names for their console. "These were so bad we didn't even save them, but I remember making fun on one of them by calling it the 'Microsoft Bunduss'," Blackley quips. "Then we got the 'acronym' phase from the naming geniuses."
Here's a list:
- MAX (Microsoft Action Experience)
- AIO (All In One)
- MIND (Microsoft Interactive Network Device)
- FACE (Full Action Center)
- MITH (Microsoft Interactive Theatre)
- XON (Experience Optimised Network)
- MVPC (Microsoft Virtual Play Center)
- TAC (Total Action Center – discs/games could be called TACs)
- MARC (Microsoft Action Reality Center)
- LEX (Live Entertainment Experience)
- M-PAC (Microsoft Play and Action Center)
- RPM (Real Performance Machine)
- MOX (Microsoft Optimal Experience)
- E2 (Extreme Experience)
- MTG (Microsoft Total Gaming)
- VIP (Virtual Interactive Player)
- PTP or P2P (Powered To Play)
- VIC (Virtual Interactive Center – disks/games could be called VICs)
- MARZ (Microsoft Active Reality Zone)
- TSO (Three, Six, Zero)
- EHQ (Entertainment Headquarters)
- O2 (Optimal Ozone or Optical Odyssey)
- MIC (Microsoft Interactive Center)
- R&R (Reality and Revolution)
- MEA (Microsoft Entertainment Activator)
- AMP (Active Microsoft Player)
- VPS (Virtual Play System)
- MAP (Microsoft Action Play)
- MEGA (Microsoft Entertainment & Gaming Attendant or Microsoft Entertainment & Gaming Assembly)
- CPG (CyberPlayGround)
- VERV (Virtual Entertainment & Reality Venture)
- OM (Odyssey of the Mind)
- P2 (PowerPlay)
- IS1 (Interactive System In One)
- MET (Microsoft Entertainment Technology or Microsoft Entertainment Theatre)
While none of these stick out as particularly palatable, it's interesting to note that -- even in 2001 -- Microsoft were keyed in on marketing their console as a full-blown entertainment system that did more than play games. You can draw a straight line of thinking from the proposed "Microsoft All in One," through the 360's Netflix, Twitter, and ESPN apps, and directly toward the Xbox One reveal last month.
Thankfully, Blackley and his team eventually circled back to Xbox, one of the project's original codenames. "Xbox" is itself short for DirectX Box, in honor of the proprietary Microsoft software that sits at its core.
"Phase four was a battle between us and the naming guys, when we decided we just wanted to risk it and go with Xbox – since that’s what everyone called it anyway – and they wanted, for some unknowable reason, to call it ‘11-X’ or ‘Eleven-X’. Finally, we told them no, but still had to decide: X-Box, xBox, XboX, Xbox, X-box…”
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter