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Power Mac G5 shipment at Microsoft HQ

A shipment of Power Mac G5s arrive at Microsoft to be adapted into XeDKs.

Alpha Xenon Development Kits (XeDK) were based on Power Mac G5 computers that were appropriated by Microsoft for use during early stages of the Xbox 360 game console.


Power Mac G5 XeDKs at E3 2005 Xbox booth

Power Mac G5-based XeDK units were used at E3 2005.

Microsoft took delivery of the Power Mac G5 units at their headquarters in Redmond, Washington in October 2003. Michael Hanscom, a contractor, photographed the delivery and posted about it on his blog.[1] Hanscom was immediately fired,[2] drawing greater attention to the incident.[3] Microsoft adapted the G5 systems as the PowerPC G5 processors were architecturally similar to the Xenon processors secretly being developed with IBM for the Xbox 360 console, though not yet ready for use.[4]

During the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Microsoft unveiled the forthcoming Xbox 360 gaming platform. The cosmetic exterior case of the console was shown, but all game demos were actually being run on the Power Mac G5-based development stations that were out of the view of attendees. After near-final hardware became available for use as "beta" development units, most of the earlier G5 systems were wiped and sold to full-time Microsoft employees for $300 each. Working units have become sought after as collector's items.[4]


As XeDKs are based on two stock Power Macintosh G5 models, it is possible to replicate the development configuration by matching the specifications and installing Microsoft's "Xenon" operating system software (the code name of the Xbox 360).[4]

  • 2.0 GHz dual-processor or dual-core PowerPC G5.
  • 160 GB hard drive, specifically a Seagate ST3160023AS.
  • Intel Pro100+ 100BASE-T PCI card. (the Microsoft software is not compatible with the Gigabit ethernet built into the Power Mac G5)
  • ATI Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition or ATI Radeon X800 XT Mac Edition AGP card (or ATI FireGL X3 after flashing it with the BIOS from an ATI X800 XT)
For installation procedures, see FrankenXenon at the Xenon Wiki.


The ability to run shipping Xbox 360 titles ranges from a few running well to many running poorly to the majority failing to boot.[5]




  1. Even Microsoft wants G5s by Michael Hanscom, Eclecticism. 2003-10-23.
  2. Microsoft fires worker over weblog by Todd Bishop, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 2003-10-29.
  3. Fifteen minutes of fame by Michael Hanscom, Eclecticism. 2003-10-29.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The SDK “Power Mac G5” for the Xbox 360 by Pierre Dandumont, Le Journal du Lapin. 2019-01-21.
  5. Alpha XeDK OG XBOX Emulator Compatibility Chart by Gunz4Hire, Proto Planet. 2019-11-01.

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