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Original thread:
Post 31 made on Sunday May 4, 2008 at 16:04
Ernie Bornn-Gilman
Yes, That Ernie!
December 2001
On December 18, 2007 at 03:53, djy said...
Well, what else would you expect from Microsoft.


This is old news, but I sent it to my son before making that last post. He is in charge of software (and has been in charge of hardware) for the enterprise end of a local college. He is a bit of a gamer, so he knows the issues. He's not too Keen on the stupid controlling things that Microsoft does. Nonetheless, this is his reponse, worth him taking the time out of his Sunday to write:

This is a console. What do you expect?

The comparison with a Mac is complete crap. How can you compare an appliance with a computer? Sure, an Xbox has USB ports and so does a Mac but that has nothing to do with the software that it uses. That's like saying "Why can't I transfer my channel lineup from my old TV to my new TV? They both have IR ports! My two Windows laptops can transfer files over IR!"

Just cause the Xbox is made by microsoft doesn't mean it runs windows. Just cause it uses parts you might find in a computer doesn't mean it's a computer. A console is made to be a set top box that you plug in and use. That's all. You don't upgrade a console - you replace it. You don't upgrade your TV - you replace it.

I'm amazed that MS publishes a way to do this whatsoever, that's awesome! Try and get TiVo to tell you how to transfer your old content to your new TiVo. (There are ways to do this but they're not from the company and they void your warranty.)

Apple is the worst offender of this. There is no way for the user to replace the rechargeable battery in iPhones or iPods. Originally Apple said this wasn't a problem - the battery on your iPod is supposed to last a year and we come out with new iPods each years so....just upgrade every year and everything will be fine. They backtracked on that and came out with a $50 service where you can mail in your iPod and have the battery replaced. $50! A battery costs perhaps $15 and you have to mail it away which takes a week or so.

Yes, you could write software to make it so you could upgrade from one console to another. But A) there's no financial incentive to do that and B) that would make it a computer and vulnerable to all the things that computers are vulnerable to. If you make transfers possible you have to make backwards compatibility possible. The expense and the complication of the device goes up as do security concerns. How pissed would this author be if MS wrote an upgrade protocol and then a security hole is discovered that allows remote access to his Xbox? Well, the obvious retort is don't have security holes but that's naive. They will happen and one of the best ways to avoid them is to avoid unnecessary features.

This isn't a Microsoft thing. This is an appliance vs computer thing. It's an open vs closed system thing. Windows and Mac OS are open systems (not open source but others can write programs that will run on them). Consoles are closed systems (only the manufacturer or trusted partners get to write programs).

Sure it sucks that console don't have all the functionality of a computer. It sucks that some games aren't made for computers but only for consoles. Oh well. That's how you make money on a closed system. Don't like it? Don't buy it. Consumers have all the power here. Don't buy this stuff and you'll force things to change. That's happening in the music industry. After years of Apple selling their shit with all kind of restrictive licensing attached the music companies have realized that helps Apple make money but not them. They're moving towards DRM free distribution methods to undercut Apple.

This is an example of a very common fallacy. That making connections between disparate systems should be easy and ubiquitious. That is ridiculous and you only see that in the movies. The brave hacker hero whips out a cell phone, ipod, and a laptop and takes down a huge comptuer network in 30 seconds. That's crazy. You can't just plug things into things and expect something to happen. These aren't F-ing Legos.

It also bothers me that this is a standard that only software seems to be held to. Why isn't everyone up in arms that you can't plug a USB drive into a serial port? Why do we accept a million different cell phone connectors without a peep? Why aren't we enraged by HD requiring and HDMI port instead of our old friends the RCA plugs.

There's this obvious, visceral understanding that if plug A doesn't fit into plug B then oh well that's the way it is and we go about our lives with maybe a little grumble. But if new software doesn't mesh perfectly with old software then holy hell, string up Bill Gates.
A good answer is easier with a clear question giving the make and model of everything.
"The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." -- G. “Bernie” Shaw

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