The Xbox has gone through several visual periods during its life span, from an edgy and yet somehow dorky green alien thing, to a modern look that could be described as “I know how to use Excel but I can still have fun.” But like stumbling on a Facebook album from high school, you can still hold on to a bit of the past. As spotted by senior editor Tom Warren, the original Xbox background is now an option for the Xbox Series X / S.
The new (old) styling was added as a new dynamic background as part of Tuesday’s system update, which notably also brought improvements to quick resume. Titled “The Original,” it looks like a higher-resolution version of the glowing green orb that was at the center of the first Xbox’s user interface. Please note: it’s not the interface itself (Microsoft wouldn’t abandon tiles like that), but it is a recognizable part of it.
Xbox insiders can now access the original Xbox dashboard animation as a dynamic background called "The Original" pic.twitter.com/Nvh6D8iw2X— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) May 11, 2021
My experience with the original Xbox is admittedly secondhand. To me, it was the loud box that lived at my friend’s house and let us play Halo: Combat Evolved. But I do think you can get a pretty solid hit of nostalgia just by looking at this background and remembering what used to be. A simpler, more green time, when consoles were consoles and not Metro-inspired (or I guess Fluent Design-inspired) pseudo-Windows machines.
Microsoft and the Xbox team have been through a lot since the 2001 launch of the Xbox — the Xbox One was briefly positioned as a sort of cable box — but there’s some charm missing in the current dashboard and user experience. That charm was exchanged for a mostly better, if more complicated experience overall, but the heart still remembers what the brain forgot.
For a longer trip down memory lane, check out our visual history of the Xbox Dashboard and ponder with me how the Xbox 360’s “Blades” could be crammed on the Series X and S.