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An inside source talks up what went wrong with Xbox 360 reliability

There are two pieces to this, an (??) interview and then a later follow-up on the Seattle PI blog. The whole thing is fascinating, if depressing, confirming everything I always feared about Microsoft's ineptitude on the Xbox 360:

Since it's launch in Fall of 2005 Xbox 360 systems all over the world have had major hardware failure problems resulting in millions of costumers having to mail their Xbox back to Microsoft. No one really knows what has been causing these problems since the official lines never divulged the specific problems or rates of failure. All a person has to do is to press the power button on their Xbox 360 and there is a chance that it will just up and fail to boot up and shine the "Red Rings of Death". Microsoft decided to extend the warrantee for the Xbox 360 but the cloud of fear and uncertainly still hang around the game system.

This past week I met and interviewed an individual who has worked on the Xbox 360 project for many years and they had some things that they wanted to get out into the public.

A few interesting assertions from this interview:

  • The failure rate for the Xbox 360 is about 30 percent. Newer versions fail at a rate of about 10 percent, though that is still too high.

  • There's no way to know when or if your Xbox 360 will fail: Most fail early, but even a particularly demanding game could put it over the edge.

  • The failures are a direct result of Microsoft rushing the 360 to market in order to beat Sony.

  • While a vertical Xbox 360 could be knocked over, that set up is "safer," thermally, than leaving it horizontal, as it provides more surface area for cooling.

  • External fans that draw power from the 360 power supply do more harm than good.

  • The next generation Xbox "3" is still years away. But Microsoft will release new and more efficient Xbox 360 designs every year or so to lower manufacturing costs.
Related: Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death Interview With Your Average Joe Gamer
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