For the current generation of gaming consoles, the Xbox 360
has several reputations. On the positive side, the Xbox 360 is the undisputed
leader of online service and multiplayer, but on the negative side, it also
holds a track record of being fairly unreliable.
At one point, up
to one-third of all Xbox 360 consoles experienced the hardware failure
popularly known as the Red Ring of Death, which rendered the console unusable.
In response to the apparent hardware design flaw, Microsoft
in June 2007 introduced a revised
cooling design with heatpipe and heatsink to cool the GPU. New “Falcon”
hardware that would include
65nm chip technology, which was later found to apply
only to the CPU, landed in
stores last Fall. Hardware to integrate a 65nm GPU, codenamed
“Jasper,” isn’t due until this August.
While many from Microsoft’s entertainment and devices
division have spoken on the Xbox 360’s reliability record, Bill Gates was
mostly removed from commenting on the issue – until now. Speaking in a BBC
Video interview, Gates revealed that it’s now Microsoft’s goal to make the Xbox
360 “the most reliable” console on the market.
“Well, we certainly had to apologize to our uses about a
number of boxes that had to be replaced,” said Gates. “We did that for free for
all of those people, we've gotten a lot of positive feedback about the way we
“We've got incredible reliability on the new work we've
done,” he continued. “Our commitment is that it will be the most reliable video
game box out there. People really love the Xbox because of the content, but
we've got to make sure that the hardware never stands in the way of that.”
To cover owners of older Xbox 360 hardware that may still be
vulnerable to the Red Ring of Death, Microsoft in July 2007 extended
its warranty to cover the specific hardware failure for three years from
quote: Their failure rate is something like 30%
quote: If I'm looking at buying a processor, I'm not going to buy AMD because back in the P4 days Intel was slow and overheated
quote: ...don't claim there's something unforgivably wrong with the box today.
quote: If you buy an Xbox now, then it comes with a failure rate well below 15%, how much lower we still don't know.
quote: That's what someone should be evaluating a piece of hardware on: what it actually is, not what it was.
quote: But you can't deny that the failure rate of the 360 is still higher than it should be.
quote: My TV does 1080p over component, but HD movies only go at 1080i.
quote: because it's half the image delivered twice as quickly, so there is no quality loss if your tv displays everything properly.
quote: While MS handled it very well, they still had to lose some customers to the PS3 and Wii because of quality problems.