Users had been anticipating Microsoft's dashboard update for some weeks. It was the update that bought 1080p support to the Xbox 360. Unfortunately, it bought something else to some users - a totally bricked console.
Shoot first, worry about the consequences laterIt's pretty easy to spot a bricked 360. Just turn it on and watch ERROR CODE E71 flash endlessly on the screen. A bricked 360 is bad news for anyone wanting to play games or surf Xbox Live - because you can't do either of those things. In fact, it turns the games console into a very expensive paperweight.[poll id=15]
Initially it was believed that the bricking was confined to consoles which made use of firmware modded to allow backups of games (or, lets be honest here, pirated games) to be played, but now it seems that this isn't the case. However, the issue does come down to Microsoft trying to detect consoles running on modded firmware. Unfortunately, the experiment seems to have gone too far, damaging consoles that weren't modded in any way (it's unclear what effect the update was supposed to have on modded consoles).
Microsoft says that it is aware of the issue, is working on a fix and that "less than 1 percent" of users have been affected.
Now I have to be honest and say that I don't like the direction that this is going in. This is pretty much a repeat of how Microsoft is wielding the power offered to it by Windows Genuine Advantage - a "shoot first, worry about the consequences later" attitude followed by statements that are designed to make the issue seem small. Given that the user base of the Xbox is pretty big, "less than 1 percent" of users still amounts to a heck of a lot of gamers denied the right to use a product they paid for.
When it comes to fighting piracy, it's time for Microsoft to stop, take a deep breath and rethink. Just as with WGA, too many innocent users are being caught in the crossfire.
However, if you're running a modded Xbox, then take this as a sign that Microsoft is out to get you.