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Free ‘Power On’ documentary explores 20 years of Xbox — here’s how to watch

xbox power on
(Image credit: Microsoft)

If you’re an Xbox fan, then you’ll know that 2021 marks the original console’s 20th anniversary. From the original Xbox, to the Xbox 360, to the Xbox One, to the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, Microsoft had made great strides in the gaming space, transitioning from a PC-only publisher to a living room powerhouse. Likewise, if you’re an Xbox fan, then you’ll know that the process didn’t happen overnight, and Microsoft had a considerable amount of difficulty along the way. That’s what "Power On," a new documentary series, aims to convey.

"Power On: The Story of Xbox" is a free, six-part documentary series all about the history of the Xbox brand and technology. An official Xbox Wire post details the documentary, describing it as the "first-ever comprehensive and authentic history of Xbox, where you’ll hear directly from the team that lived through the compelling and challenging 20-year journey."

If you think that a documentary from the company that produced the console sounds a little self-serving, well, you may be right. "Power On" doesn’t exactly seem like a hard-hitting exposé about the console market, or Microsoft’s ability to throw a whole lot of money at it.

On the other hand, the show doesn’t shy away from some of the Xbox’s missteps, either. The Xbox Wire post explains that "Power On" delves into "heartbreaking challenges like the Red Ring of Death [and] Microsoft’s attempt to acquire Nintendo in 2000."

The good news is that if you want to watch "Power On" and judge its merits for yourself, you can do so right now without having to pay a single penny. The documentary is available to watch on RedboxYouTube and IMDbTV, among other free channels. You can also watch it via Microsoft Movies & TV, if you want to download the program right to your Xbox console. Each episode is about 40 minutes long, meaning that watching the whole thing is a four-hour commitment.

However, if you have four consecutive hours to spare, you could stream the whole thing on Twitch along with a Microsoft team. On Thursday, December 16 at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. BST, Microsoft will stream all six episodes consecutively, and you can discuss them with other fans as they play.

The Xbox Wire posts highlights a few more 20th anniversary milestones, such as "Power On" art prints, or the Xbox Museum, which you can visit online. But the highlight here is a warts-and-all retrospective of the Xbox, which features a lot of developer commentary you probably won’t hear elsewhere. We haven’t had a chance to watch the documentary yet, but this could help kill some time the next time the Xbox Live servers go down.

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.