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)