Friday, July 6, 2007

Have A Dead Xbox 360? Don't Worry - The Boys In Redmond Will Pick Up The Tab

Everyone that owns an Xbox 360 knows about the dreaded red rings of death. It's a fear we all must live with every time we fire up a game on the console. Despite this knowledge, though, Microsoft has never admitted that there's a problem with the console's design. And, that hasn't changed. What has changed, however, is what MS is doing about all those dead consoles. They're fixing them, free of charge, for three years.

In a letter posted on the official Xbox website yesterday, Peter Moore, head of the video game division at Microsoft, announced that MS would be retroactively extending the "general" hardware warranty on all Xbox 360's sold in the U.S. to three years. This is up from the current one year. What this means is that any Xbox suffering from a three red rings failure, even those purchased on launch day, will be repaired under warranty, free of charge. Even shipping will be paid.

It's important to note that this enhanced warranty only covers the three red rings problem. So, if the DVD tray mechanism in your launch console breaks tomorrow, this extended warranty probably won't cover it (try anyway - it's worth a shot). That being said, this is still phenomenal news that is long overdue.

Also, just to be clear, this warranty is fully retroactive. That means that any console owners who paid for repairs on this problem (or even just paid for shipping) will have their costs refunded. It's great to see Microsoft going the extra mile on this one.

But as I said previously, despite this announcement, Microsoft has not stated that there is a fundamental flaw with the design of the console. Instead, this was simply billed as a way of improving the customer service experience associated with 360 repairs. Moore was also not specific on the "improvements to the console" that have already been made. However, it's safe to assume that the additional heat sinks we reported on earlier are part of that package.

Whatever the reason, and whatever the spin, kudos to Microsoft and Peter Moore for stepping up to the plate and doing something about what has seemed to become an epidemic of console failures. I'll be gaming with more confidence knowing that MS has my back should my 360 decide to have a meltdown. Of course, with my luck, that meltdown will happen 3 years and 1 day after my purchase...

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