Around the same time last year, we wrote an article looking at the Xbox 360’s weaknesses. Let’s take a look at our list and see how things have changed:
1. Overheating CPU/GPU
Since our article, Microsoft has extended the warranty of Xbox 360’s. Recently, my Xbox 360 had a display error related to the GPU. I called Microsoft’s tech support and since my system was one of the launch systems, Microsoft replaced my Xbox 360 free-of-charge. I went through regular customer tech support for this, and it went fairly smoothly (although the process took an hour on hold). Reports of defective Xbox 360’s have essentially disappeared with the current production methods.
2. No MSN Music
We were right to think of the Xbox 360 as a platform for online content. At the time, we were focused on MSN Music given that it was Microsoft’s established platform. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense. There was no point in bringing MSN Music to the Xbox 360 while the Zune Marketplace was in development. With the Zune out in the real-world, I’d expect to see more Zune/Xbox 360 features coming together.
We almost predicted the Xbox 360’s high-definition movie rental service. At the time, we were focused on music rather than movies not because of bandwidth or the market, but copy protection. Let me quote something from a year ago:
“...it would not have been difficult for Microsoft to release high-definition movies or TV shows using the Xbox Live infrastructure. The hardware is HD capable and the networking infrastructure is capable of handling large files -- game demos are already topping 1GB. Without HDMI or DVI/HDCP support, Microsoft may find it impossible to convince Hollywood studios to allow users to download high-def, full-length movies for playback on an analog source.”
3. No HDMI/1080p support
The fact that we have HD-DVD and HD Xbox Live Marketplace videos over analog is a real testament to the power that Microsoft wields. They have basically gotten Hollywood manufacturers to sign on. Basically, Hollywood will not allow you to upsample 480p DVDs to high-definition resolutions over analog connections... but you’ll be able to display 720p and 1080i HD source.
Microsoft has recently added 1080p VGA support to the Xbox 360. Although this is currently limited to upsampling 720p games, some of the Flash based games in the Xbox Live Arcade will potentially benefit from the 1080p support.