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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Microsoft Can't Handle The Heat

Of their own console, that is:

Last week, GamePro addressed the alleged addition of heatsinks to repaired Xbox 360 units in Europe, although Microsoft subsequently declined to comment on these heatsinks despite photographic evidence supporting their installation. To dig deeper into the matter, the San Jose Mercury News spoke to Holmdahl, and asked him tough questions regarding the Xbox 360's failure rate. However, a good portion of these questions were answered with some form of the words "No comment", but of the questions Holmdahl was authorized to answer, many were dotted with Holmdahl's assurances that the public loves "the box".

"I would go back and say the vast majority of people love their experience," Holmdahl states, in response to a question asking for an explanation for the number of Xbox 360 owners who claim to be victims of a defective machine. "We continue to go back and address all of these issues on a case by case basis. There is a vocal minority out there. We go off and try to address their issues as quickly and as pain free as possible."

But even talk of beneficial upgrades, such as the change from 90-nanometer to 65-nanometer chips, was an off-limits subject for Holmdahl. When asked for a comment on the possibility of a chip upgrade, Holmdahl simply responded:

"We continue to redesign the box, continue to drive costs out. We don't talk about the specifics of it."

Holmdahl further emphasized his point by stating that 90-nm chips and 65-nm chips will yield the same results because the "quality is good at both of those."
-- Microsoft Dismisses Xbox 360 Hardware Complaints.

I kept hearing, but haven't actually stumbled on, Takahashi's interview with Holmdahl where Holmdahl dances around the point in such an apparently not so elegant manner. I think it's true that the majority of 360 users are happy with their purchase - but to flick away the slowly mounting evidence that the 360 was something of a flawed design to begin with seems arrogant and mildly reckless. The heatsinks are a telltale. Holmdahl is trying to say they won't fix anything because there is nothing to fix - but the European models prove they have fixed something ... so clearly there was something to fix.

And I raise an eyebrow at the 90 to 65 nm comparison, as I (and I think a goodly portion of the Internet) was under the assumption that one advantage of the new chips was less heat. That was the view of of this 2005 preview of 65nm chips in PC World. Maybe Holmdahl needs to pick up a few more magazines?

Basically Microsoft is in damage control here. The 360 isn't selling so wonderful as to manage a full blown controversy well. Fortunately for them, they're pretty good at this.

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