Microsoft Proves They’re Not Complete Idiots

| June 21, 2013

Earlier this week, I took Microsoft to task for screwing over military gamers through policies planned for their new Xbox One.  Well, it appears that Microsoft has had a change of heart.

The fact that they’ve changed their mind isn’t exactly shocking.   But the speed with which that happened – about a week after announcing their original plans – is quite the surprise.  Large corporations like Microsoft usually don’t move anywhere near that fast to change a bad policy, if they ever change it at all.  And the announcement today represents a nearly-complete turn-around in policy.

Microsoft’s executive in charge of Xbox One – Don Mattick – has announced that Microsoft will

  • not require full-time Internet access for using a new Xbox One after initial setup (initial setup will presumably require network access)
  • will allow owners of Xbox One games to sell/loan/trade them like they can today, or lock them to a single console

Microsoft also implied – but didn’t state outright – that they will not enforce region-locking of games.  This is significant for US troops serving a PCS tour in overseas areas such as Kuwait and Japan where MicroSoft did not previously plan to allow Xbox One gaming.  However, since this is only implied vice being stated outright, this merits watching closely.  Problems could conceivably surface for those stationed in such areas who choose to connect their new Xbox One to the Internet.

The “always on” microphone issue also wasn’t addressed in Microsoft’s announcement.  While this is less of a privacy problem for those not connecting their Xbox One to the Internet, it does mean that the device might be considered a “recording device”.  This could pose security problems in some environments.

Still:  all things considered, this is a “good thing” – even if not necessarily perfect.  Kudos to Microsoft for changing a bad policy quickly vice trying to “ride it out” and save face.

As I remarked elsewhere:  I guess one of Microsoft’s “old hands” managed to get word to their senior executives of how pissing of their user base and refusing to compromise regarding the “new model” of a successful product worked out for IBM with the PS/2 and OS/2.  (smile)

Category: Who knows

Comments (8)

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  1. Mike says:

    The people have spoken!

  2. brian says:

    It wouldn’t have been so fast if the outcry about the way the game system functioned hadn’t caused nearly every gamer to complain about it. Well at least those on the sites I check.

  3. Dan says:

    I was saying this all along. The number of console owners far outnumbers the xbox live subscribers. There are plenty of people that never connect their boxes to the internet. The DRM issue actually screws some people. Now your games are not available on any box you play on and you won’t be able to play the game without the disc. The whole digital thing is the future, people will have to get use to it and DRM is the only way to manage it. A few more years and you will never see physical media again.

    Yeah, if the outcry wasn’t so bad, it would have taken longer. In reality, these fixes amount to no more than a 100kb download to amend the code.

  4. Ex-PH2 says:

    Can we get them to bring Hotmail back?

    The replacement service stinks.

  5. Hondo says:

    Dan: what you cite is true, but doesn’t necessarily imply a company will use common sense when it comes to a strategy for a new version of a product.

    The same was true about the IBM PC (and its clones)/MS-DOS combination when IBM brought out the PS/2 and OS/2. IBM stuck to their guns in that case, refusing to listen to their current users and make any of their newer products backwards-compatinble. The result was that IBM permanently lost a market on which they had a stranglehold to others because they were too stupid (or too stupidly proud) to listen.

  6. Hondo says:

    Ex-PS2: I’d guess not. Hotmail wasn’t exactly a big revenue-generator for Microsoft (it’s kinda hard to make much $$$ off a service you provide gratis). They really don’t have much incentive to be responsive in that case.

    In contrast, the Xbox One likely will be a rather large revenue-generator. Microsoft realized they were about to “pull an IBM” and kill that revenue stream if they didn’t listen – so they changed.

  7. GruntSgt says:

    I never could get into playing game playing other than Cribbage, Gin, or Poker and haven’t played them since Christ was an acting corporal. Hell I didn’t have computer until five years ago. Now if you talk about working a nice piece of figured Walnut or Maple with a well set up smoothing plane then you’ve gotten my attention.

  8. DaveO says:

    Microsoft is lying. The decisions about region-locking and internet and persistent surveillance were made because these things made Microsoft more money. Microsoft is not in the business of losing money.