Friday, December 19, 2008

Microsoft faces new Xbox 360 reliability accusations

It seems Microsoft discovered its Xbox 360 could scratch discs before it went on sale in 2005, and even got as far as considering three possible solutions to the problem, the Seattle Tech Report revealed today.

The characteristic circular scratches can occur whenever the orientation of the console -- which is designed to be used in either a horizontal or vertical position -- is changed while the drive is spinning. Johnson filed his suit after his console scratched three store-bought game discs, and is seeking $50,000 in punitive damages.

Testimony obtained from a Microsoft program manager indicates that Microsoft became aware of the problem months before the 360's launch when retail demonstration consoles malfunctioned. The company examined three solutions: strengthening the magnets that hold the discs in place, slowing the rotational speed of the discs, and installing rubber bumpers to cushion the discs, but rejected them all. Installing the bumpers could have cost as little as $0.50 per console, the suit claims.

It's not the first time Microsoft has come under fire for alleged foreknowledge of Xbox 360 hardware issues, either. Back in September, an expose penned by VentureBeat writer Dean Takahashi claimed systemic failures in Microsoft's design and quality assurance processes lead to the Xbox 360's now-infamous overheating "Red Ring of Death" failures.

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