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Xbox 360 - How Backwards Compatible?

[Update 19may05: Well, it looks like it’s worse than I thought. Supposedly, Xbox games have to be recompiled to be usable on the Xbox 360. That means you’ll have to get a new version of the game. And… well, I don’t know how that’ll work. Maybe if you stick your Xbox game into your Xbox 360, Xbox Live will download the playable version of the game down to your hard drive. Hmm. Any other ideas?]

The PS2 was backwards compatible with the original PlayStation. Now, I never own an original PlayStation, so when I bought my PS2 that was no big deal. But I did try out a couple PS1 games on my PS2, and I found the compatibility to be not the greatest. But I didn’t care much – they were just a PS1 games after all. Plus, I always figured that people who really want to play PS1 games probably already have a PS1. So personally, I don’t see the big deal about backwards compatibility.

But it does seem to be a big deal with a lot of people. Sony has announced that the PS3 will be backwards compatible with the PS2 and PS1. Nintendo has said that the Revolution will be backwards compatible with the GameCube. And Microsoft has said… well… that’s just a little confusing. The Xbox 360 will be Xbox compatible for popular games. So, the Xbox 360 will play some of the Xbox games you have, or maybe all of them, or maybe even none of them. When I worked at Macadamian, one of the projects I worked on was WINE. It’s basically an implementation of the Win32 API on Unix/Linux systems. We tuned WINE to fully support certain Windows applications of a client of ours, allowing these applications to run on Linux. It’s very hard to make a completely compatible Win32 implementation, but it’s doable to implement just the stuff that a certain application needs, and that’s what we did. My guess here is that Microsoft is doing the same thing with the Xbox and Xbox 360. They’re going from an Intel Pentium CPU to an IBM PowerPC CPU, and from an nVidia graphics chip to an ATI. So some emulation is in order. And the reason behind their flaky support for Xbox games is that it’ll be hard to support all of them, so they’ll support the important ones instead. That’s my guess. But you know, I don’t really care. I don’t have any Xbox games! Todd, you listening? What’s your opinion?

Link: DesigntechnicaXbox 360 Not Fully Compatible?