PS5 Operating System revealed? How the PSOS and start-up screen have evolved over the years – from the PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 to our first glimpse of PlayStation 5 UI

The PlayStation 5 operating system sounds like it could be amazing, but the PS5 OS has a lot to live up to! Check out our history of PS OS and start-up screens over the years…

by Daryl Baxter

You always remember your first time… of switching on your PlayStation console. And as we gear up for the PS5‘s arrival, it’s a great time for a walk back down memory lane.

The memories come flooding back: you’re welcomed with the familiar ‘Sony Computer Entertainment’ screen, and as long as there’s no disk in the console, you’re brought to the home screen of the PlayStation.

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It was rudimentary in 1995, but nowadays we use the PSOS to manage video clips, game libraries, TV apps, and much more. It’s come a very long way, with hopes for even more improvements in the PS5.

In fact, in the latest PS5 reveal event live-stream, Sony may have sneakily revealed the PS5 UI for the first time.

With that, let’s look at the history of PlayStation OS, and ponder where the PS5 could take us…

It all began with the PS1 OS

The start of it all. There were in-fact two different appearances; one that was a mid-nineties multi-coloured trip, while another was a streamlined grey appearance, but both had the same features.

CD Audio wasn’t a new thing at the time, but playing game music from the CD was a neat new novelty. You could be doing a house-chore or some homework back in the day, while the soundtrack of WipeOut 2097 or Tomb Raider plays in the background. Here’s a link where it shows a full list of the games that do this.

Play this and feel the nostalgia flow through you.

We all remember managing our memory cards, where a game would measure storage through ‘blocks’, and there would be a mix of games on this screen that could have an animated picture, alongside a very short header of the progress of that game so far. There was also a tense moment where you would move one block to another memory card, hoping that the power didn’t suddenly turn the console off and the whole card would become corrupt. 

The original UI was even brought back for the PlayStation Classic a couple of years ago, allowing users to choose from the games that were pre-loaded for the system, but twenty-five years on, it’s still aged fantastically well.


Moving onto the PS2 OS

This was probably the most trippy of the systems, where you would almost be ‘flying’ through the OS, but the functions were essentially the same, except for options to smooth out the graphics when PS1 games would be out into the system.

The ‘Browser’ had the memory card function and the option to play a disc that was inserted, whether if it was a music or game disk.

The memory card had 3D models this time, who would animate now and again. As the PS2 had an internal clock, it’s interesting to go back and see just when these save files were last updated.

A lesser-known fact of the browser, is that when the system starts up, there’s a few ‘towers’ in the background. It turns out, depending on how many saved games there are, it will reflect that in the amount of towers shown.

Then came the PS3 OS

The ‘XrossMediaBar’ was something that even preceded the PS3; it first appeared on the ‘PSX’, a home-media machine that could not only record TV shows, but play PS2 games natively.

But it was on the PlayStation 3 where it really showed what a console could do; no frills, just straight to the point of the features. It’s a UI that’s had the marmite effect, either you love to use it, or you hate it.

In hindsight, it seemed better suited to the PSP and its small screen, but on the PS3, especially on a huge HD television, it just looks as though there’s a lot of wasted space.

A shame really, as this was when the PS Store and its full online capabilities launched, so when it was being compared to Xbox Live and its intuitive way of keeping track of friends and going online, it seemed to always be playing catch up.

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The PS4 OS is great

The latest UI called ‘Orbis OS’, was a marked improvement. Much more colour, much more of a welcoming UI for anyone to find what they were looking for in a couple of minutes rather than ten.

We were welcomed into Shuhei Yoshida’s ‘living room’ back in 2013 with him demo-ing the UI, showing just how someone could look at clips of certain games, and being able to join in to a Killzone match.

The UI even had better themes, so if you wanted one that reflected the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, you could install it and enjoy it all, along with sounds from the game.

As far as sharing content and managing the games installed, it did its job well, and has done for the last six and a half years since release.

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What about the PS5 OS?

It’s been twenty-five years since we were greeted with that first boot-up screen, and one only hopes that we see a UI on the PlayStation 5 that not only honours the past of where it all began, but where it can go throughout this decade.

A Sony patent seems to suggest that the PS5 could come with a robot companion that will communicate with you and sense your feelings while you play. There’s no telling, at this point, how such a companion will impact the way we use our PS5 consoles – could voice control be a big deal, perhaps?

Either way, our best look yet at the PS5 OS came during a recent live stream, where Sony gave us this sneaky glimpse of something that looks at lot like the start-up screen of the PS5 UI…

It brings back memories of the swirling PS3 load-up screen, doesn’t it? But only time will tell if the finished PS5 product matches this clip!


Also, rumour has it that the PS5 OS could be “as easy as Netflix“, allowing gamers to switch between games and apps with minimal effort. And given that that Sony’s new SSD could well reduce loading times significantly, maybe we will be jumping between games at incredibly high speeds.

Anway, there you have it; a history of what welcomed every user when they pressed the ‘power’ button of each console, or the PS button from the PS3 onwards, and were greeted with the familiar sounds and visuals of that moment in time. We’re excited to see what’s next…

READ MORE: Xbox Series X start-up sound revealed

Daryl Baxter