Xbox Live Founder Leaves Microsoft

One of the forces behind Microsoft's successful push into the living room, Boyd Multerer, left the company.

Xbox Live Management

Boyd Multerer, director of development for Xbox, has made his exit from Microsoft.

"Goodbye Microsoft. It was a good run. Xbox was Great! Time to do something new," tweeted Multerer (@BoydMulterer) on Dec. 29. Where he is landing next is being kept under wraps, at least for now.

"Currently doing independent secret stuff," reads Multerer's Twitter account. "Not yet ready to say what that new thing is … But OMG is writing code [every] day and exploring ideas fun," he wrote in a follow-up tweet.

Multerer is considered the "father" of Xbox Live, the online multiplayer and media streaming service. In a Microsoft Stories profile, Multerer worked as a contract worker for the company in 1994 while running his own software company Zephyr Design, a maker of desktop publishing tools, which he later sold to Adobe.

In 1997, he would join Microsoft full-time as a member of the Xbox team in charge of getting the company's first console online. Multerer would go on to become the first person on the fledgling Xbox Live service.

Multerer and his team also came up with some of Xbox Live's signature features, many of which endure today.

"They pushed for gamer tags (an idea game developers strongly disliked) and the friends list and a social but secure online environment. Xbox Live launched in November 2002, and one need not look further than its 46 million subscribers to know how well those bets paid off," wrote Microsoft writer Jennifer Warnick in her profile of Multerer.

Multerer also introduced fledgling game developers to the XNA video game programming language. "XNA is a sort of gateway drug for programmers, an approachable set of tools based on .Net Framework to help them develop video games (and, hopefully, to hook them on coding)," stated Warnick.

Multerer's departure caps off a year of ups and downs for the Xbox division.

In October, Microsoft shuttered its Xbox Entertainment Studios unit. Helmed by Nancy Tellem, a former CBS and Warner Bros. TV executive, the studio was Microsoft's Netflix-like stab at original streaming content.

For most of 2014, the Xbox One trailed rival Sony's PlayStation 4 (PS4) in terms of sales. With a lower price tag ($399 versus $499), the PS4 represented a cheaper alternative to next-generation console gaming than the Xbox One. Both consoles share a similar "Jaguar" architecture from Advanced Micro Devices, although on paper, the specs favor the PS4.

In June, Microsoft began selling a version of the Xbox One that dispensed with the Kinect motion controller for $399. In the lead-up to holidays, Microsoft temporarily slashed prices by another $50 and rolled out money-saving special edition bundles.

The tide may finally be turning in Microsoft's favor. The company recently announced that the Xbox One had finally outsold the PS4 during November, roughly a year after both consoles hit store shelves.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...