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Xbox 360 Update Will Lock Out Unauthorized Storage

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the don't-embrace-this-time dept.

Data Storage 435

itwbennett writes "The other shoe has dropped on the upcoming preview program for the next Xbox 360 update and it's going to cost you. In a post on the Major Nelson blog, Xbox's Larry Hryb reveals that this next update will lock-out unauthorized storage devices. As blogger Peter Smith reminds us, 'the Xbox 360 comes in two (currently) SKUs, one with a hard drive, and one without. The drive-less Xbox 360 Arcade unit is cheap ($199) but to realistically use it, you'll need to buy a "Memory Unit" (basically a proprietary USB stick) or an Xbox hard drive.... A 512 MB Microsoft branded Memory Unit goes for $29.99 at BestBuy.com. A 2 GB third party Memory Unit from Datel goes for $39.99, and the Datel unit is expandable using microSD cards....If you bought the Datel and it's full of data, between now and the launch of the new update you're going to have to run out and buy 4 of the Microsoft units at $29.99 each, or more likely, pick up the $99.99 60GB Live Starter Pack for Xbox 360.'"

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435 comments

Or 120GB for $54.99 (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799411)

... or more likely, pick up the $99.99 60GB Live Starter Pack for Xbox 360.

Or (in an even more likely scenario if you're reading Slashdot) you will opt to do it yourself [pcworld.com] to get twice that storage for a little over half the cost [newegg.com]. This is, of course, assuming that locking out "unauthorized storage" does not also target in some crazy way locking out hard drives.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (2, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799445)

They could always just upgrade to a real [google.com] gaming system.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799555)

Exactly. Consoles have always been a locked down device versus the openness of PC. I dont know why people are surprised when this kind of stuff happens.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (1, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799639)

Yeah, that kind of stuff never happens on PCs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SecuROM [wikipedia.org]

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799823)

You're really comparing SecuROM to a console in terms of locked down?

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29800195)

Yes, SecurROM exists on a small subset of games where as the console is locked from hardware. In addition, there isn't a single vendor for PC games; anyone can develop them and for whichever OS they please.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (3, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800225)

Because every other manufacturer before this generation has pretty much allowed whatever? I've used 3rd party memory cards for the Playstation, PlayStation 2, Wii, Gamecube and just about every console that has supported memory cards with no disadvantages. This changes things.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (1)

Predius (560344) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800289)

The minor exception being that for the most part, you can't run what you want on said external memory cards... there is potentially executable code stored on MS memory cards, hence why MS is being paranoid with it.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799721)

Of course. Replace something from Microsoft by something from Microsoft.

How clever of you. I guess.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799877)

You're right about the OS for gaming (but the less honest guys can probably find a pirated XP Corporate Edition).
The hardware, however, is NOT controlled by Microsoft.
My own PC is still mostly running Windows, but I fully expect that Microsoft will some day piss me off enough that Windows gets kicked from the HD. At that point I'll have to give up some games that don't (yet) run under WINE but otherwise I'll be fine. You don't have that sort of freedom with a console.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799483)

Isn't that exactly what they're doing here? Locking out unauthorized storage.

For that matter I dont know why anyone would buy the Arcade version. If you're already putting that kind of money for it, you might just put the little extra and get the version that has all the features. (and before someone starts ranting about "you shouldn't pay for extra features", look at it the other way around - the best version is the standard version, if you get anything below it you dont get all the features)

It's a good replacement unit (4, Informative)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799581)

My four year old X360 died two months ago. Not a Red Ring Of Death, it went completely inert. No light at all. Swapping the power brick with a couple borrowed ones confirmed the unit failure. I had upgraded it to a 120G official MS hard drive a year ago.

I bought the arcade unit because [1] I could just plug the old hard drive into it and [2] as far as I could determine it was the model with the latest, greatest chip set that had all known issues solved. Works great.

Re:It's a good replacement unit (4, Insightful)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800085)

[2] as far as I could determine it was the model with the latest, greatest chip set that had all known issues solved. Works great.

I always thought one of the arguments for going console was that this was never going to be an issue?

Re:It's a good replacement unit (2, Informative)

Sancho (17056) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800303)

He's referring to slight redesigns (and a smaller fab process) that makes the box run cooler and significantly reduces most of the RRoD failures. It still functions in the same way as the older devices.

What you're referring to is not having to upgrade components, I think. A 360 is a 360 is a 360, and you don't have to check to make sure that yours has the right graphics card in order to know that a particular game will work on it. You need the right peripherals, of course, and if Project Natal takes off, that could be an issue for some people.

Re:It's a good replacement unit (1, Troll)

berwiki (989827) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800315)

hey, it's still 1000x better than PC compatibility issues.

Re:It's a good replacement unit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29800367)

lol, good one.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799601)

Isn't that exactly what they're doing here? Locking out unauthorized storage.

I understand what you're saying but I do not know how they would do this. I'm not a hardware guy but what I do know of firmware is that if you're making this drive look like the correct corresponding WD1200BEV drive [ivancover.com] firmware-wise ... how will the XBox360 know the difference? I assume these firmware dumps are binary dumps from actual Microsoft licensed drives so while I'm not saying it's impossible, it would sure be impressive if they can pull that off. Because I imagine it would have to disable a lot of valid drives unless they took care to sign each unique drive and (on top of that) have a way to validate it against a server. I heavily doubt they would go to that lengths to prevent such a small portion of the population from saving money on an upgrade.

I would say this is a very safe alternative.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800157)

making this drive look like the correct corresponding WD1200BEV drive firmware-wise ... how will the XBox360 know the difference?

Take the serial number of the drive, sign it with Microsoft private key and put the signed text into the MBR or somewhere else where it will be not touched by the filesystem. Anyone with the Microsoft public key (and certainly any Xbox) can verify who signed the drive.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29800275)

making this drive look like the correct corresponding WD1200BEV drive firmware-wise ... how will the XBox360 know the difference?

Take the serial number of the drive, sign it with Microsoft private key and put the signed text into the MBR or somewhere else where it will be not touched by the filesystem. Anyone with the Microsoft public key (and certainly any Xbox) can verify who signed the drive.

But how do you read the serial number? Isn't that just stored in the firmware? Wouldn't flashing the firmware just make it look like the same correct drive ... making querying a server necessary to validate it?

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (4, Interesting)

oldmankdude (1196325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800265)

MS can identify the drives already by what they call HDD SS (security sector). If you rolled your own drive, you more than likely used somebody else's HDD SS (one that said your drive is 120GB). What we don't know is if MS is going to scan for them!

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (0, Flamebait)

runyonave (1482739) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799575)

No, if you had any sense to not get robbed by big corporations. You would dump xbobx360 and give a flip of the bird to M$.

Consoles are crap (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29799619)

This vendor lock-in is annoying.

My PC games are better than my 360 games anyway.

I think I have finally been nudged out of the console market.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (1)

Rudeboy777 (214749) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799735)

WHOA THERE COWBOY!!!
Anyone considering this would do well to note that the product number of the drive you linked and the drive needed for this hack are NOT THE SAME and you will fail if you use the model that ends in BEVT. The BEVS version is no longer produced, hard to find, and has an inflated price as a result of this known procedure.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799893)

WHOA THERE COWBOY!!! Anyone considering this would do well to note that the product number of the drive you linked and the drive needed for this hack are NOT THE SAME and you will fail if you use the model that ends in BEVT. The BEVS version is no longer produced, hard to find, and has an inflated price as a result of this known procedure.

That's really interesting considering the reviews (several) to the right of the Newegg BEVT product read:

xbox 360

white Reviewed By: Nick on 9/2/2009
Rating + 5
Tech Level Tech Level: high - Ownership: 1 week to 1 month
This user purchased this item from Newegg

Pros: Purchased this device to upgrade the capacity of my 360. I now have a 120GB 360 drive for a fraction the cost of a ms one.
Cons: none
Other Thoughts: You must be experienced with computers to use this drive for the 360. (Not just plug and play)

Although I have not done this myself (I don't own an XBox360) I know of people that have done it successfully with the BEVT and there are posts online [xbox-scene.com] of successes.

I would be really surprised if the firmware didn't work for the BEVT the same way it does for the BEVS [ivancover.com]. I think the inflated price of the BEVS is simply because they don't make them anymore. Not a hardware guy but I'd be surprised if Microsoft's latest XBoxes aren't shipping with later drives like the BEVT.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (3, Informative)

CreamyG31337 (1084693) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800273)

They ship with different brands of drives right now, western digital ones are the only ones that can currently have their firmware spoofed and security sector rewritten with an all-in-one tool (HddHackr). As of version 1.00 it supports:
    - WD Scorpio Series BEVS/BEAS
    - WD Scorpio Blue Series BEVS/BEVT
    - WD Scorpio Black Series BEKT/BJKT
    - WD VelociRaptor Series

I just bought a BEKT so I can have a nice 7200 rpm drive assuming they aren't about to start blocking them :(

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (3, Insightful)

tjhayes (517162) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800205)

This is, of course, assuming that locking out "unauthorized storage" does not also target in some crazy way locking out hard drives.

You know the old saying about what happens when you ASSUME, right?

Unless it's an official licensed XBOX device, by definition its an "unauthorized storage" device. Therefore these hard drives that you suggest buying from Newegg will also be locked out when this new update arrives.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800323)

And after you update the firmware on the new drive, the XBox will not be able to tell the difference. If the Xbox thinks you have an authorized Xbox hard drive, how is going to lock out the new drive? The whole reason it "knows" you have an unauthorized drive in the first place is because the firmware on the drive tells it so.

Re:Or 120GB for $54.99 (1)

idlehanz (1262698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800281)

They (Microsoft) would REALLY really need to prove that they could build a reliable storage device that wasn't noisy as all get out before this consumer buys another one. Perhaps the most annoying thing about the Xbox fiasco (and believe me - I was a HUGE Xbox fan - at one point claiming I would not buy any other console), when the drive failed I want to put in a QUALITY device but the hack was a pain in the ASCII. You (Microsoft) want to lock me into your crap? Pass.

Microsoft shoots... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29799491)

...and boom goes the Dynamite.

oh Microsoft... (5, Funny)

pha7boy (1242512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799517)

just when the hackers were getting ready to focus their efforts on the iPhone and Apple, there you go again, throwing down the gauntlet. Are you that much of an attention hog?

Re:oh Microsoft... (0, Troll)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799647)

Yeah, that Xbox 360 hacking scene is _really_ jumping... Microsoft threw down the gauntlet and pretty much have had their way with the hackers. It can certainly be done, but it's hard enough that only the really hard-core (small, small minority) do it. Compare this to the original Xbox which had a pretty thriving hack community.

Re:oh Microsoft... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29799731)

Wait, are we talking about the xbox360 here?

The console is laughably easy to hack. All you have to do is plug in the DVD drive SATA to your computer, flash the firmware using a special program and you're done.

Compared to previous consoles going back to the PS1 where you have to solder in another circuit board the 360 is crazy easy.

Now the hard drive upgrade is slightly more difficult if you want to save all your old data.. If you're just getting a brand new console and upgrading from 20-120GB though again, frigging easy.

Re:oh Microsoft... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29799931)

Wait, are we talking about the xbox360 here?

The console is laughably easy to hack. All you have to do is plug in the DVD drive SATA to your computer*,

Provided that you have a supported sata chipset,

flash the firmware using a special program

After you troll around IRC and "the scene" to get everything you need

and you're done.

Compared to previous consoles going back to the PS1 where you have to solder in another circuit board

Dreamcast had boot cds
Playstation 2 could be hacked with a gameshark style disc and a usb key
Playstation 1 had disk swapping as well
Original Xbox had Mechwarrior, 007, and other memory card hacks. Load up a hacked memory card game and you've rooted
Wii has its memory card hack
The Nintendo ds is trivial if you have a mod-card and memory card reader
The PSP is easily 'sploited by numerous methods.
The gameboy advance also is exposed to flash cards.

the 360 is crazy easy.

Now the hard drive upgrade is slightly more difficult if you want to save all your old data.. If you're just getting a brand new console and upgrading from 20-120GB though again, frigging easy.

Provided that you have a drive that is flashable, and that doesn't require a special firmware tool.

Re:oh Microsoft... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29799939)

No, it's easy to run warez. It's difficult to run your own code. There was an exploit to allow this on almost all xbox 360's, but microsoft patched it so you missed the window unless you were vigilant.

For what purpose is this update? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29799545)

Why are micro$soft forcing users to dump a legally bought device, to use their one? -security -to protect the user's data from evil viruses Micro$oft, nothing but greed.

Better Idea. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29799551)

Don't buy Microshit(TM) products.

And the band played on... (0)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799593)

> A 512 MB Microsoft branded Memory Unit goes for $29.99 at BestBuy.com. A 2 GB third party Memory Unit from Datel goes for $39.99

And remember that any attempt to circumvent locking out third-party memory is a heinous violation of the DMCA and will leave *you* the crimino-consumer liable for a big fine or jail.

Meanwhile the Feds looked at Microsoft's Monopoly and decided it all soft, fluffy and harmless.

Where's my Hope and Change?

> Biden was one of only four Senators invited to a champagne reception with Jack Valenti for his work on the DMCA
http://techliberation.com/2008/08/25/biden-on-tech-policy/ [techliberation.com]

Re:And the band played on... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29799793)

Meanwhile the Feds looked at Microsoft's Monopoly and decided it all soft, fluffy and harmless.

What monopoly? I walk into the living room and see a Wii. Are you sure Microsoft has a monopoly on video games?

Re:And the band played on... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799943)

Well, some folks use the word 'monopoly' when they mean 'market share'.

Re:And the band played on... (3, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800113)

"Monopoly" or "Market Share", the DMCA doesn't make distinctions about either before branding circumvention a criminal act.

Re:And the band played on... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29799989)

Not monopoly, anti-competitive. I see a lawsuit here. Typically stepping on your competition like this gets you in some trouble.

You're talking shit, and I'm calling you on it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29800101)

So, you can no longer buy Playstations? Wiis are completely gone from the world?

MS isn't a monopoly in the console market. If this action of theirs annoys the consumers, they'll buy a different machine. Because there's no monopoly.

So...what did you want the government to do here, again?

Re:And the band played on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29800181)

What monopoly? You might as well say that Microsoft has a monopoly on the Xbox360 market. It's their product and they can make it talk or not to whatever the heck they want. Until Microsoft controls the entire gaming landscape - this is not a monopoly. It's a scummy move, but illegal it isn't

Re:And the band played on... (1)

nomike (1284342) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800245)

Why are the feds not realizing: This is MY hardware. I gave THEM money to produce it for ME. I could plug it in and play games with it. I could also throw it down to a valey, put it in my kitchen sink and pour water on it. I could take a big SUV and drive over it the whole night long, and if I'm courious I take the sledge hammer and set everything on fire when I'm finished. I can do all that because it is MY hardware. And now they are going to tell me, that I must not alter the firmware (which I also bought) which is an integral part of the hardware? Thankfully I'm in Europe (we have different issues here), but this DMCA is just !'%(#!=/&!!! Stop beating the hackers (and I definitely mean hackers not crackers!). All that technology filly-willy-blinky stuff we need and use today would not exist without the work from great and honourable hackers from the past! cheers nomike

Re:And the band played on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29800301)

Hi, have you actually read the DMCA?

`(f) REVERSE ENGINEERING- (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a)(1)(A), a person who has lawfully obtained the right to use a copy of a computer program may circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a particular portion of that program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing those elements of the program that are necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, and that have not previously been readily available to the person engaging in the circumvention, to the extent any such acts of identification and analysis do not constitute infringement under this title.

Audacious. (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799641)

I find Microsoft's willingness to squeeze for storage interesting in two respects: One, it suggests a very high level of optimism about their position in the market. Two, it suggests that they don't much care about, or aren't making much money from, downloadable offerings for the Xbox(or that they view those offerings as being extremely compelling and likely to drive consumer behavior).

If they weren't confident of their position, and were actively trying to drive down the perceived cost of their product, storage would be a natural target. Just let people use bog-standard flash drives for game storage, and the market will continually release cheaper ones faster than any one company could even do design revisions. Same basic idea with basic HDDs. The fact that Microsoft isn't doing that suggests that they are very confident in their price point.

As for downloads, if Microsoft were making good money on those, they would want users to have huge hard drives, rather than limping along on a nasty little 512meg card. Again, they don't seem to be thus motivated.

Re:Audacious. (3, Informative)

Marthisdil (606679) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799749)

Most people aren't "limping along on a nasty little 512meg card". Most xbox 360 players generally have one with at least a 20GB HD on it. I don't see the huge issue here really.

Re:Audacious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29800119)

20 GB is anemic when you consider that they added a feature a few months ago to install games to the hard drive. I have 3 GB left on my 20 GB drive, and I have two games installed. A 120GB would be nice, but not getting screwed is even better. Of course the ultimate would be a 1TB.

Re:Audacious. (3, Insightful)

ILikeRed (141848) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799831)

Well stated, but I think when you also combine this news with the recent story that MSFT is looking to double the price of an XBOX Live subscription to $100/year or more [pcworld.com], then it paints a picture that MSFT is getting desperate to squeeze a profit out of their gaming devision for fear of losing the whole thing if they don't soon. Makes me really wonder about their financial picture in general that they seem to not be able to invest in this area with a long term growth vision anymore, even when they are currently losing to the Wii.

Re:Audacious. (3, Interesting)

The Moof (859402) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800153)

MS has never suggested anything like that, it's pure speculation from analysts. From your linked article:

But that $50 price may double over the next few years, according to financial analysts. [...] "I doubt that MS would start raising the price of XBL, they have to compete against the PSN which is free and has all the same features. What ever you may think of MS they are not stupid," said another.

I personally doubt MS will increase the cost given they keep adding marketing features to the dashboard. I think they're more likely to look for added revenue via paid marketing and other 'premium downloads' type marketing much like we're beginning to see (such as the the "avatar marketplace").

Re:Audacious. (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799891)

Indeed. A 512 MB card shouldn't cost more than $5 right now, while a 2G card should be under $20. They're nickel and diming their customers in the wrong places. If I could buy a nice 100 GB hard disk for $50, I would not only spring for that, but also download far more content - which in turn would drive up my perceived value of the system.

Instead, I'm getting the impression that I'm being fleeced every time I want to do something useful. Maybe that PS3 isn't such a bad idea after all.

Re:Audacious. (1)

dr00g911 (531736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800043)

Gotta love MS, always two steps behind when they crib their strategy from elsewhere (in this case the big box stores that love overpriced accessories).

Marking the hell out of cheap commodity accessories stopped being [nytimes.com] a viable business [compusa.com] model a few years ago.

Here's hoping that extended warranty scams and increased online competition force some sense into the big boxes at some point, but the writing's on the wall.

Amazon's already trialing same-day shipping in major markets. Other etailers won't be far behind.

Re:Audacious. (1)

bmajik (96670) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800235)

[Disclaimer: I do not work for/near the xbox team or have any non-public knowledge about what they do or why they do it]

I'd guess the issue is about control of the content and experience.

Once you make it really easy for people to move data in and out of the "closed system" of the console and the playground of the PC, certain types of attacks become possible, and other types of attacks become much, much easier. You might rightly say that that horse has left the barn, but i think it's an issue of bar-setting. I know that it is possible to take the disks out of my old Xbox 1, unlock them, and party to my hearts content on those machines. But as of yet i have not done so, as the time investment / reward ratios haven't been right. The issue of "ease/convenience of compromise" is a legimate one when your goal isn't absolute theoretical security but is instead cloesr to "we can credibly tell our content partners their stuff is pretty safe, and our customer base is dominated by legit paying customers instead of people who are skirting the rules"

You may recall that one of the first successful attacks on the original Xbox was via the action replay device -- which basically let you get savegames on and off of the Xbox. A memory-unit with an SD card that lets you do the same thing represents the same sort of attack vector and/or threat.

Furthremore, Microsoft is attempting (and at least partially succeeding) around building a digital content marketplace on the 360 platform. Making it easy to get content out of that closed system into somewhere without oversight is not a goal. Infact, keeping that content under wraps probably _is_ a goal.

So i'd wager that any 3rd party device that makes it easy to get content in/out of the 360 from the wild west of the PC is going to be discouraged by MS.

The popular wisdom [i.e. speculation] is that MS gets a bunch of revenue from everything except the 360 unit itself:
- software [Xbox has highest attach rate of any current console]
- peripherals [lots of these are MS 1st party and have a wide margin in them]
- and of course Xbox live [it is widely assumed that this service is wildly profitable, even with all the costs involved in keeping it going].

I don't think knocking out 3rd party MU's is to protect the profits of 1st party peripheral business -- i think it's to protect xbox live.

Anti-competitive (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799661)

Locking out the competitor's product should be illegal. If you can't compete because your product is overpriced, you shouldn't be propped up. Yes that may mean that people have to pay the true cost of a console or printer or other device, as it isn't subsidised by content/ink etc. It's called honesty. Manufacturers should try it some time.

Absolutely not. (0, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799751)

Locking out the competitor's product should be illegal.

No, because, this is a subsidy of the competition. Next thing you know, you'd have to hold your competitor's hand, work together on some product, watch your own share evaporate....

Re:Absolutely not. (3, Insightful)

Rickz0rz (831049) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799845)

Pfft... slippery slope. In this case, the company (Datel) already CREATED a working solution. It's not about about hand-holding or anything like that, right now. It's about MS locking out Datel's product because it's 4x the storage (expandable to like.. 64x with a micro SDHC card) and only $10 more. Microsoft is doing it because they love money.

Re:Absolutely not. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799921)

It's about MS locking out Datel's product because it's 4x the storage (expandable to like.. 64x with a micro SDHC card

I'm ok with that so long as those network effects can be used to benefit American companies to the exclusion of foreign competitors.

Pfft... slippery slope. In this case, the company (Datel) already CREATED a working solution

For all we know the original story is a press release from Datel basically arguing that MS should keep the same format so Datel won't have to change (er, be locked out!)

Re:Absolutely not. (4, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800201)

I can't create a car that artificially locks out 3rd party replacement parts and upgrades... why should Microsoft be able to create a gaming box that does the same thing?

Re:Anti-competitive (0, Troll)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799855)

It is not anti-competitive at all. The Sony PS3 and Nintendo Wii platforms are free to approach the same issue in a different way and Microsoft can do nothing about it. Also, syousef, you could launch your own game platform company and open up you game console to 3rd party storage. If this topic is really something that consumers care about then they'll beat a path to your door.

Re:Anti-competitive (2, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800089)

Also, syousef, you could launch your own game platform company and open up you game console to 3rd party storage.

Yes I'll just quit my job, risk my family income etc. No problem. Why didn't I think of that?

Re:Anti-competitive (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800025)

Nothing is being 'locked out' without the customer consent. While you may own the box, they own the online service. If you don't want to be updated, don't connect to the online service. That's certainly not required if all you want to do is play with friends on the same console.

Re:Anti-competitive (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800175)

If you don't want to be updated, don't connect to the online service.

Yep. I'll just go buy a console designed to be online where the best games require the online service, and then not connect to the service. Sounds reasonable to me.

Trash the X-box ... Starcraft 2 will be here soon! (1, Insightful)

ZuchinniOne (1617763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799667)

Stuff like this is why I still haven't bought an X-Box, PS3, or Wii ... I'm so sick of this proprietary crap. I'm just waiting for an open source gaming system ... oh yeah ... I've got a PC :)

Re:Trash the X-box ... Starcraft 2 will be here so (4, Insightful)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799727)

I'm so sick of this proprietary crap.

So you go for the game with no LAN play that you have to connect to proprietary Blizzard Servers? At least consoles give you little to no expectation of openness.

Re:Trash the X-box ... Starcraft 2 will be here so (1)

ZuchinniOne (1617763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800129)

I do have to agree with you on the lack of LAN play, but perhaps that will change in the future.

Clearly they're trying to prevent piracy, but maybe a future update, once sales have slowed, will include LAN play.

PS3.. (4, Informative)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799805)

I recently bought a PS3 and despite what I've come to expect from Sony, it is probably more open than any other game console I've bought. Use any bluetooth headset for voice chat, use any USB hard drive for storage, replace the internal hard drive with any one that fits, I think that's pretty cool. I bought the older model and installed OpenSUSE 11.1 without much of a hitch, although 256MB of memory makes it pretty useless for most tasks. The PS3 was happy to backup the hard drive contents to my iPod before I repartitioned it for the "Other OS" and I restored the contents just as easily. You're right though, it's still nowhere near as open or as useful as a PC, but so many games come with system-bogging, glitch-prone DRM these days I tend to prefer the plug-n-play nature of a console.

Re:PS3.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29799927)

The PS3 is, hands down, the best system for most people nowadays. BluRay player, open platform, free online, amazing technical performance, great games.

I own one and would never look back.

Re:Trash the X-box ... Starcraft 2 will be here so (0, Flamebait)

torchdragon (816357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799839)

Yeah, it'll be great to play StarCraft 2 on a bunch of home built computers on your private home network! Ohhhh, yeah, that's right they took that you so you still have to connect to Battle.Net in order to play a LAN multiplayer game.

It's also really awesome that they're launching it for not one but two open source platforms! Oh, right, forgot... Windows and OS X aren't actually open source.

But yeah! Right there with ya man! I'm so sick of this proprietary crap too! I just can't wait for Blizzard to finish making their product which includes pretty much a custom built set of code that is not available to anyone but Blizzard employees... making it not really an open product.

Hmm... well, guess its not as open souce as I thought but woo, man that spin was great for about 15 seconds!

Linux!!!! Wooo! *kegstand*

Re:Trash the X-box ... Starcraft 2 will be here so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29800371)

I'm still waiting for AMD to create their own console. They can build all the expensive parts in-house, except for an optical drive.

But the fact that the Linux graphics and sound stacks are nowhere near complete and stable disillusions me regarding the feasibility of using it as a console OS. Neither users nor developers like their consoles stuttering, hanging or crashing.

Is this right? (3, Interesting)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799673)

You can buy 60GB for $99 or "stick it to the man" by paying $29 for a 2GB third party device?

Re:Is this right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29799905)

Keep your comparisons in forms of apples to apples.

Otherwise, why would anyone buy a thumbdrive when they can get a whole harddrive for so much less per KB/MB/MiB etc. Why pay for a Ferrari when a used Toyota also comes with 4 wheels, a steering device, and doors?

For those who got the arcade version, there wasnt much incentive to buy a whole harddrive when a memcard did all you needed it to (save games / progress). Generally, those are the same people who dont have their XBox's connected to the 'net (at least in my small sample size (family, friends, etc)). Those with large harddrives got them so they could download videos from XBL or stream video via netflix.

While I agree that its a crap move that will most likely get circumvented, you are not helping the situation any with your over-inflated "omg the sky is falling" crap.

Unauthorized? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799777)

Unauthorized as in non-Microsoft or not Microsoft approved?

If they lock out even 3rd party devices, aren't they jumping straight into "abusive monopoly" territory?

Re:Unauthorized? (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799879)

They may have a genuine excuse somewhere such as "oh we've had tons of customer complaints and service requests that we've resolved as being the problem of the unauthorized third-party device" or "we're changing the way this part of the xbox 260 works for compatibility or security reasons or to get some additional features into the firmware for newer games to use and many third-party memory devices don't work properly with the changes". Still it does seem like a way to get a lawsuit their way, unless maybe they go "oh hey third-party device makers, we had to disable your stuff for whatever reason, but here's the changes you can make to your designs so your devices will work again".

Re:Unauthorized? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799963)

But still, that would mean disabling customer hardware that previously worked... It still smells like a class-action lawsuit to me.

Re:Unauthorized? (0, Troll)

koiransuklaa (1502579) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799997)

yeah, that might easily be the case, if they were a monopoly.

Re:Unauthorized? (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800287)

You can't lock out 3rd party replacement parts for cars, or void your warranty because of it, and no vehicle manufacturer is a monopoly. Why do consoles play by different rules?

Re:Unauthorized? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800311)

If car dealers can't force you to buy brand-name accessories, why should console makers be allowed to?

And the slant comes out (2, Interesting)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799869)

But Apple blocking the Pre from working with iTunes isn't bad?

Re:And the slant comes out (1, Flamebait)

Jon_Hanson (779123) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799983)

Apple didn't block the Pre from anything. The Pre was using the iPod/iPhone USB identifier. It was the USB Working Group that told them to stop.

Re:And the slant comes out (3, Informative)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800191)

<quote>Apple didn't block the Pre from anything. The Pre was using the iPod/iPhone USB identifier.</quote>

Not at first. They switched to using the iPod/iPhone USB identifier only because Apple blocked the Pre from using iTunes...

Re:And the slant comes out (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800219)

but otherwise it worked without "hacking" itunes at all... they just told iTunes a Pre was an iPod and it opened right up....no DMCA breaking involved. i.e. exactly the same thing Microsoft is doing here changing something that works now.

iTunes still supports OTHER older media players from before iPod was crowned king. So the functionality for third party players is already there... Apple is excluding MUSIC CUSTOMERS from using non-Apple devices to sync non-DRM'd music.

Re:And the slant comes out (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800305)

Apple changed iTunes to start looking for that. They didn't look for the USB identifier before the Pre started syncing.

Re:And the slant comes out (1, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800221)

Point of Order: Apple blocked the Pre from falsifying its USB device address/ID to get that compatibility.

Re:And the slant comes out (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800249)

Apple is all about very limited support of hardware. There is not the level of expectation that your rock bottom priced device is going to work with Apple hardware. For instance, on Apple laptops, if the memory can be upgraded, the authorized upgrades cost up to twice as much as quality retail. I have had memory rejected on a desktop after a system update. I have had cameras that absolutely would not work with Apple hardware. Then there is the difficulty buying WiFi adaptors.

While this situation is changing, Apple has never claimed to be company that supported everything. MS has, and continues to so do. I think this was the scary thing about Vista. Here was a new OS from a company that was supposed to be about all commodity parts, and it did not run on commodity parts. In fact it appeared that MS was trying to push a model where hardware and software vendors would have to pay MS for certification. While I don't think that MS is going to this extreme at the moment, such a path was a plausible scenario a year ago. As Apple has shown, such a model can be profitable.

With the Pre, Apples motives are clear. They do not want to do technical support on a device that they have no control over, and they do want the DRM stuff on the Pre. It would be simple enough for the Pre to come with software that hooked into the standard filetypes Apple uses to sync. True, someone would have to write this software, and the DRM stuff would not work, but it would be a better solution. It is clear that Palm chose the budget solution.

Things are equally clear with the xbox. The only reason there is an issue is because people are used to using commodity hardware on MS Windows, and MS has not differentiated the product enough to avoid the confusion. I do not see this as a MS issue. There is no reason for the xbox to be open. It is really an problem of people thinking that anything MS is MS Windows. I think that MS was trying to get away from the MS Windows legacy with Vista, but it did not work. Given that failure, I am bit surprised they would try to close xbox, but would not criticize them in any other way for doing so.

The Pre could have used supported APIs. (3, Informative)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800333)

Apple isn't blocking the Pre from working with iTunes. Apple is blocking the Pre from working with iTunes by pretending it's an iPod. If Palm had used supported APIs (say, by letting you create a "Palm Pre" playlist and then reading the songs from that playlist to sync to the Pre) there wouldn't be a problem. Palm cheaped out to avoid having to write their own sync application (which is crazy, because they made the best handheld sync I've ever used) and used a hack instead.

People expect publishers to lock out hacks. They don't expect them to lock out stuff using standard APIs.

PS3 (2, Informative)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799897)

I'd Like to point out that you can upgrade the PS3 Hard Drive, and still keep your warranty.

Needles and pins (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29799955)

i luke turtles

Re:Needles and pins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29800173)

thsnk yuo

Misinformation (2, Informative)

Samedi1971 (194079) | more than 4 years ago | (#29799971)

The drive-less Xbox 360 Arcade unit is cheap ($199) but to realistically use it, you'll need to buy a "Memory Unit" (basically a proprietary USB stick) or an Xbox hard drive.... A 512 MB Microsoft branded Memory Unit goes for $29.99 at BestBuy.com.

The current version of the Arcade comes with 512M internal memory, so throw this whole statement out the window.

This will kill them (3, Insightful)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800011)

This will kill them in the battle against the PS3. Sony make it so easy, for a start every PS3 comes with a hard drive, so games developers can assume that there is bulk persistent storage there and take advantage of it. You can also use USB mass storage devices. You can also upgrade the internal hard drive with undoing just a couple of screws, and it's all supported.

Sony have an easy way for you to back up your PS3 to an external USB hard drive, you then insert any laptop hard drive (I went with a 7.2k one and some things are noticeably faster) and you then restore your system onto the new hard drive. All without paying Sony an extra cent.

Just when I was yet again considering an Xbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29800039)

I'm not a modder or hacker or care to use third party hardware but I don't like getting my cage rattled every time I turn around. It seems like they time it brilliantly so every time I weaken and consider getting an Xbox I get reminded why I avoided them. Between hardware issues, HD falling on it's face, update issues and Microsoft's patented wild hairs up their asses I live in fear of the things. Ever consider releasing a gamebox that works and not fuck with it? I know you would have had my business years ago.

Is is legal to remove functions after purchase? (5, Interesting)

SlashBugs (1339813) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800055)

This is something I've been wondering about for a while with devices that receive software updates. People base their purchasing decisions on the list of features announced for the devices, the payoff of what features you get against the price. Then, as part of an upgrade, the manufacturer deliberately cripples part of the device and removes some functionality. This removal of support for third-party storage is a good example, or Amazon pushing an "update" to remove the text-to-speech feature for many (all?) books.

There are all sorts of arguments made about software because we're typically sold licences, not an actual copy of the software. But in cases like this, we've actually bought a physical object. It's now ours, not the manufacturer's. So do they really still have the legal right to reach out an remove features? They advertised a function, which it now doesn't have. It feels like a sort of retroactive false advertising. A lot of Xbox owners will now need to spend extra money simply to restore the original functions; if they'd known this was necessary before purchase they might only have been willing to buy the XBox at a correspondingly lower price, if at all. So as MS have changed their end of this bargain, surely their customers should have the right to change theirs? A partial refund (to represent a lower original price) or the option of a full refund both seem fair to me,

I know people can, in principle, unplug their XBox to avoid accepting this update but then, again, they're losing the functionality that was originally advertised and that they originally paid for. Does this seem fair to anyone? Does it seem legal?

Re:Is is legal to remove functions after purchase? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29800243)

In reality, they arent forcing you to accept these changes. Your Xbox will function as intended offline and unplugged from the internet. Xbox Live is billed as a continuously changing and updating environment, and the cost to continue will be the firmware update.

Just like when you update your home computer, the experience changes. Some updates can be undone, some cannot. If the benefit of the update outweighs the negative, you will most likely do the update.

This is why PC gamers tout that the platform is better, since there isnt this sort of "lock in".

To more pointedly answer your question, the change is happening to the Xbox, but it is not required to run the Xbox. Newly purchased games (at this point) will not require that firmware change. Xbox Live, which continually changes, will require this update for continued performance. You bought the Xbox, Xbox Live is just a service provided. You didnt buy Xbox Live.

what a bs move.. any way you look at it, it's lame (1)

Hobyx (1175577) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800071)

Bean counters.. may they perish under the weight of a thousand pod husks.

Small Monthly Fees, Get Used to It (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29800083)

This is the wave of the future with all devices.

You don't need to upgrade it yourself, let Microsoft give you storage, for a "small monthly fee".

Next will be, you don't need to "own" a PC, or software, rent it, for a couple of "small monthly fees"

Let someone else manage your data, for a small monthly fee.
Let someone else update your programs, for a small monthly fee.
Let someone else manage the hardware, for a small monthly fee.

You will pay your "small monthly fees" and you will get NO WARRANTY, NO FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, NO RECOURSE, NO REFUNDS, and NO SECURITY.

Most of the caps text is taken from the license agreement from most 'online only' software.

Think it won't work? It already does.

You don't "own" your cellphone, SIM card, or it's data. You simply rent it, for a "small monthly fee".

Good luck selling any of it, getting a decent warranty, or being able to cancel your contract.

Small Monthly Fees, get used to paying them , for everything.

Well... (4, Insightful)

snkboarder (1364487) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800095)

You all did it to yourselves. I tried to warn caution when Microsoft entered the console market, but all you people would do was hug them for Halo. They're like Wal-Mart, they move in, offer you low prices, then when the competition is smeared, they take you for everything you have. Maybe next time MegaCorp shows up and goes "I'll give you a good deal if your forsake the competition" you'll stop and go: "Hmmm...did this work out for me last time?"

cold day in hell (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#29800203)

It'll be a cold day in hell when I let them... Ummm. Did you say Xbox? Oh. I don't have one of those. Never mind. -- This is how most of the general public will respond.

In case it hasn't been pointed out yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29800375)

My PS3 has a slot for SD and Compact flash, in addition to ProDuo memory (non sony works fine) cards and USB, and the installation manual has instructions on swapping out the internal HDD with any 2.5" SATA drive you want.

The only drawbacks, and these are minor, is that USB devices have to be FAT32 unless you installed linux (there's instuctions in the manual for making the PS3 dual boot as well), and if you use too big of a screwdriver, you'll strip the screws on the HDD sled.

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