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Xbox 360 Update Will Lock Out Unauthorized Storage 435

Posted by timothy
from the don't-embrace-this-time dept.
itwbennett writes "The other shoe has dropped on the upcoming preview program for the next Xbox 360 update and it's going to cost you. In a post on the Major Nelson blog, Xbox's Larry Hryb reveals that this next update will lock-out unauthorized storage devices. As blogger Peter Smith reminds us, 'the Xbox 360 comes in two (currently) SKUs, one with a hard drive, and one without. The drive-less Xbox 360 Arcade unit is cheap ($199) but to realistically use it, you'll need to buy a "Memory Unit" (basically a proprietary USB stick) or an Xbox hard drive.... A 512 MB Microsoft branded Memory Unit goes for $29.99 at BestBuy.com. A 2 GB third party Memory Unit from Datel goes for $39.99, and the Datel unit is expandable using microSD cards....If you bought the Datel and it's full of data, between now and the launch of the new update you're going to have to run out and buy 4 of the Microsoft units at $29.99 each, or more likely, pick up the $99.99 60GB Live Starter Pack for Xbox 360.'"
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Xbox 360 Update Will Lock Out Unauthorized Storage

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  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:30PM (#29799581)

    My four year old X360 died two months ago. Not a Red Ring Of Death, it went completely inert. No light at all. Swapping the power brick with a couple borrowed ones confirmed the unit failure. I had upgraded it to a 120G official MS hard drive a year ago.

    I bought the arcade unit because [1] I could just plug the old hard drive into it and [2] as far as I could determine it was the model with the latest, greatest chip set that had all known issues solved. Works great.

  • Re:Audacious. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Marthisdil (606679) <marthisdil@nOSpam.hotmail.com> on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:40PM (#29799749)
    Most people aren't "limping along on a nasty little 512meg card". Most xbox 360 players generally have one with at least a 20GB HD on it. I don't see the huge issue here really.
  • PS3.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:44PM (#29799805)
    I recently bought a PS3 and despite what I've come to expect from Sony, it is probably more open than any other game console I've bought. Use any bluetooth headset for voice chat, use any USB hard drive for storage, replace the internal hard drive with any one that fits, I think that's pretty cool. I bought the older model and installed OpenSUSE 11.1 without much of a hitch, although 256MB of memory makes it pretty useless for most tasks. The PS3 was happy to backup the hard drive contents to my iPod before I repartitioned it for the "Other OS" and I restored the contents just as easily. You're right though, it's still nowhere near as open or as useful as a PC, but so many games come with system-bogging, glitch-prone DRM these days I tend to prefer the plug-n-play nature of a console.
  • PS3 (Score:2, Informative)

    by toastar (573882) on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:50PM (#29799897)
    I'd Like to point out that you can upgrade the PS3 Hard Drive, and still keep your warranty.
  • Misinformation (Score:3, Informative)

    by Samedi1971 (194079) on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:56PM (#29799971)

    The drive-less Xbox 360 Arcade unit is cheap ($199) but to realistically use it, you'll need to buy a "Memory Unit" (basically a proprietary USB stick) or an Xbox hard drive.... A 512 MB Microsoft branded Memory Unit goes for $29.99 at BestBuy.com.

    The current version of the Arcade comes with 512M internal memory, so throw this whole statement out the window.

  • by Per Wigren (5315) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:12PM (#29800191) Homepage
    <quote>Apple didn't block the Pre from anything. The Pre was using the iPod/iPhone USB identifier.</quote>

    Not at first. They switched to using the iPod/iPhone USB identifier only because Apple blocked the Pre from using iTunes...
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:14PM (#29800225)
    Because every other manufacturer before this generation has pretty much allowed whatever? I've used 3rd party memory cards for the Playstation, PlayStation 2, Wii, Gamecube and just about every console that has supported memory cards with no disadvantages. This changes things.
  • by CreamyG31337 (1084693) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:18PM (#29800273)

    They ship with different brands of drives right now, western digital ones are the only ones that can currently have their firmware spoofed and security sector rewritten with an all-in-one tool (HddHackr). As of version 1.00 it supports:
        - WD Scorpio Series BEVS/BEAS
        - WD Scorpio Blue Series BEVS/BEVT
        - WD Scorpio Black Series BEKT/BJKT
        - WD VelociRaptor Series

    I just bought a BEKT so I can have a nice 7200 rpm drive assuming they aren't about to start blocking them :(

  • by Sancho (17056) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:20PM (#29800303) Homepage

    He's referring to slight redesigns (and a smaller fab process) that makes the box run cooler and significantly reduces most of the RRoD failures. It still functions in the same way as the older devices.

    What you're referring to is not having to upgrade components, I think. A 360 is a 360 is a 360, and you don't have to check to make sure that yours has the right graphics card in order to know that a particular game will work on it. You need the right peripherals, of course, and if Project Natal takes off, that could be an issue for some people.

  • Apple isn't blocking the Pre from working with iTunes. Apple is blocking the Pre from working with iTunes by pretending it's an iPod. If Palm had used supported APIs (say, by letting you create a "Palm Pre" playlist and then reading the songs from that playlist to sync to the Pre) there wouldn't be a problem. Palm cheaped out to avoid having to write their own sync application (which is crazy, because they made the best handheld sync I've ever used) and used a hack instead.

    People expect publishers to lock out hacks. They don't expect them to lock out stuff using standard APIs.

  • by argent (18001) <peter@slasCOUGAR ... ga.com minus cat> on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:26PM (#29800387) Homepage Journal

    They switched to using the iPod/iPhone USB identifier only because Apple blocked the Pre from using iTunes...

    They were using the iPod/iPhone USB identifier from the start. That's how their sync hack worked.

  • Re:PS3.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:58PM (#29800807)

    Sony has disabled the "other os" in recent updates.

    No they haven't. I installed OpenSUSE on fully updated firmware. "Other OS" is unavailable on the new slim models, supposedly because they are tired of porting drivers for every hardware revision. Not to mention the fact that even Linux enthusiasts aren't having much fun with the feature.. I prefer to use the PS3-native web browser and media playback functions over booting into Linux and waiting for the hard drive to swap memory for every web page I click with Firefox.

  • Re:Absolutely not. (Score:5, Informative)

    by hipp5 (1635263) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:59PM (#29800817)

    I can't create a car that artificially locks out 3rd party replacement parts and upgrades... why should Microsoft be able to create a gaming box that does the same thing?

    Actually the auto makers have been trying to essentially do that by denying training and key software to independent garages. story here [theglobeandmail.com]

  • Re:Absolutely not. (Score:3, Informative)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday October 19, 2009 @06:25PM (#29801095)

    Sadly, I posted already, so I can't mod you up. But yes, the only hurdle so far to automakers locking people out of doing unapproved modifications is that there was no technological way of doing that. However, every industry has at some point or other attempted to look out unauthorized competition. It started with Guilds in the medieval times and now lives through patents, copyright extensions and software-based access control.

    As a result, it seems to me that the natural state of affairs for corporations is to create things where access is as restricted as the technology of the day allows it.

  • by Renraku (518261) on Monday October 19, 2009 @06:27PM (#29801121) Homepage

    It's not random, it's very calculated. Microsoft is getting tired of people coming out with products cheaper than they are, and so they're going to lock them out, and file it under 'For Your Protection' after saying that using unauthorized memory cards rapes your children and kills your pets. I can't stand how entitled the game companies think they are to push an update to remove features.

    What if World of Warcraft released a patch that removed all support for non-Blizzard-sanctioned input hardware?
    What if Ford decided that your warranty was void because you used non-Ford wipers? (Oh, wait, the law protects us against that..)
    What if printers didn't let you use unauthorized print cartridges? (Oh, wait, they don't..)

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Monday October 19, 2009 @06:29PM (#29801151) Journal
    And remember that any attempt to circumvent locking out third-party memory is a heinous violation of the DMCA and will leave *you* the crimino-consumer liable for a big fine or jail.

    No it isn't. A memory card is not a protected work under the DMCA.

    It's bad enough that we have an over-restrictive law in the first place. Don't make things worse by making people think it covers things that it doesn't.
  • by tftp (111690) on Monday October 19, 2009 @07:16PM (#29801665) Homepage

    Each time MS has made it clear that the hard drive is NOT to be shipped with the unit so therefore the repair center has no access to the hard drive serial number.

    They don't need to do that. Each MS drive is "programmed" at the factory, and as long as the signature on that sector is valid it's all good to go. The drive contains the serial number *and* the signature (in a sector), this way the MS drive is a self-contained unit that will work in any XBox.

    Concerning the possibility of reflashing the firmware in the HDD, I presume it is possible [softsea.com] to change the serial number on a drive. Naturally, MS might want to sign the hash of the firmware, then any change will invalidate the signature.

    There could be [other] cracks in the armor; without a solid, unquestionable ID of some sort you can not authenticate the disk and so the MS scheme will fail ... in 0.05% of all cases. But when majority of console gamers can't buy an off the shelf, no-name USB or SATA media - they will buy MS's authorized product because it's easier and the warranty is intact. So in this case MS may get away with a minimally secure protection and still accomplish most of its goals, just like it tolerates 0.1% (or however many) of p1rates who use their products without paying. Those do not matter financially.

  • by GeekZilla (398185) on Monday October 19, 2009 @07:34PM (#29801849)

    They don't need to do that. Each MS drive is "programmed" at the factory, and as long as the signature on that sector is valid it's all good to go. The drive contains the serial number *and* the signature (in a sector), this way the MS drive is a self-contained unit that will work in any XBox.

    Oh, duh. I knew I should have read your post a 4th time. You already said it might be on the MBR (or another HD lcoation) which of course, is on the hard drive which I still have in my hand when I get my "new" XBox back. My brain is obviously not functioning very well now. I had this idea in my head that you were saying that the HD Serial # and the XBox were somehow "paired", but that's not what you said at all.

    I'll just be moving along now...

  • by Chaos Incarnate (772793) on Monday October 19, 2009 @11:27PM (#29803779) Homepage
    No, they can't opt out of their contract, because going in they accepted that Microsoft "may automatically download upgrades to the software to your computer or console to update, enhance, and further develop the Service."
  • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:13AM (#29805037) Homepage Journal

    More like you sticking on your own 3rd party turbo. Then next time your car goes in for service, the manufacturer does an update on your ECU that disables the turbo.

  • Re:Er... OK? (Score:3, Informative)

    by n17ikh (750948) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @08:49AM (#29806423) Homepage

    How does this do anything at all to prevent a determined cheater? If you have the genuine Microsoft-branded XBox 360 hard drive, you can open it up and it's just a plain old SATA drive inside - which you can then proceed to plug into any computer. Or if you have the Official Microsoft memory stick, there exists [instructables.com] a way to add a USB connector - at which point it's just mass storage.

    It's a money grab, plain and simple. $99 for a 60GB 2.5" hard drive with some plastic around it? Piss off, Microsoft - in the computer world, $99 will get you 500 GB in a 2.5" drive [newegg.com] without trying. The prices on their brand of flash memory are even more atrocious. $30 for 512 megs? Again, in the computer world that's 16GB in a USB key, which is what the XBox memory stick is, with added plastic.

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