Otto Berkes, one of the primary founders of the original Xbox, has left Microsoft after 18 years at the company. His departure marks the end of an era at Microsoft. Berkes resigned yesterday. He started in 1993 at Microsoft as the lead programmer on the Windows graphics team. In 1998, he teamed up with Microsoft tech evangelist Ted Hase to create a Windows gaming machine. They were joined by Seamus Blackley and Kevin Bachus. All have since departed, as have other early advocates of the Xbox such as Ed Fries, Cameron Ferroni, J Allard and Robbie Bach. Berkes’ story was one of many I wrote about in my first book, Opening the Xbox.
Berkes and Hase left the Xbox team relatively early, before the machine’s launch in 2000, because they believed strongly in extending gaming on the Windows platform. While the Xbox began life as a PC, it eventually morphed into a pure video game console. Berkes and Hase dropped out around the time that Allard came to the project and convinced then-CEO Bill Gates to drop Windows and run a stripped-down version of the operating system so that games would run faster and boot more quickly. That turned out to be the right move.
In subsequent years, Berkes helped create Microsoft’s original line of slate computers, the Ultra Mobile PCs. That was years before Apple came out with the iPad. Back then, the trade-offs between decent performance, small size and battery life were huge. Berkes also worked on the Microsoft Courier project, which was headed by Allard. That was Microsoft’s attempt to match the iPad and go further with a dual-screen touchscreen device.
The Seattle Times said Berkes is leaving the company for another one in the Seattle area.
“It’s a good time for me to make a transition to a different set of challenges and something new and fresh,” he told the newspaper.
--Life For Gaming