After reading about Microsoft's admirable decision to extend their warranty coverage
for those suffering from the Xbox 360's Red Ring of Death error, we were given an opportunity to speak with Peter Moore about the move.
When asked why this move -- a sort of mea culpa of a growing failure rate -- has taken so long, Moore replied that it was important to "gather data and weigh the financial implications" in addition to "preparing logistics and identifying problems." While it may have seemed like a long time for those of us in the grips of the hyperkinetic blogosphere, Moore assures us that, for a multi-billion dollar mega-corporation like Microsoft, they acted with some celerity.
So, they've identified problems? What exactly has been killing these Xbox 360s? Moore said there were "a number of issues" that they discovered from collecting data. When reminded of the great job they've done in servicing 360s to date still hasn't stopped some people from having to get their console serviced numerous time, Moore said that they've put "fixes in place" to address them. He pointed out that Joystiq was a great conduit to that very community and extended (what sounded to us like) a sincere apology. They're fixing these systems because the level has been unacceptable of late ... and no, Microsoft has "no intention" and sees "no value" in sharing what percentage of failure there is.
When asked if the total absence of Xbox 360 Elite on store shelves is related to the discovery and fixing of these flaws, Moore said no. "We're not in the business of taking things off store shelves." In fact, Moore said they've recently had to air freight consoles in to keep up with demand and, while a little early, he was confident the June NPD numbers would show a strong Xbox 360 Elite showing. That said, Moore was unable to confirm the rumors that the Xbox 360 Elite is less prone to the RROD error, stating it would be "irresponsible" to make such a conclusion based on the limited amount of data available following the console's April 29th launch.
Lastly, we wanted to know why the expanded warranty didn't extend to the disc scratching error, which is not covered under the general Red Ring of Death issue, and Moore claimed the numbers on disc scratching were a "very, very, very small percentage ... infinitesimal" even and affecting only a couple of (we're guessing very unlucky) countries.
Since Microsoft will take a $1.05 billion to $1.15 billion pre-tax charge to earnings for the quarter ended June 30, 2007 to pay for the estimated cost of this policy change, consumers can see this as a kind of corporate contrition; Microsoft making sure, at great cost, to do right by their customers.