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Inside Source Reveals the Truth About Xbox 360 Red Ring Of Death

A very intriguing interview with a source inside Microsoft that sheds a little light on the Xbox 360's hardware issues.
The focus of the interview is Microsoft's Xbox 360, and it's failure issues. So why has Microsoft had such astronomical failure rates?

According to the source, "First, MS has under resourced that product unit in all engineering areas since the very beginning. Especially in engineering support functions like test, quality, manufacturing, and supplier management. There just weren't enough people to do the job that needed to be done. The leadership in many of those areas was also lopsided in essential skills and experience. But I hear they are really trying to staff up now based on what has happened, and how cheap staff is compared to a couple of billion in cost of quality."

"Second, MS was so focused on beating Sony this cycle that the 360 was rushed to market when all indications were that it had serious flaws. The design qual testing was insufficient and incomplete when the product was released to production. The manufacturing test equipment had major gaps in test coverage and wasn't reliable or repeatable. Manufacturing processes at all levels of suppliers were immature and not in control. Initial end to end yields were in the mid 30%. Low yields always indicate serious design and manufacturing defects. Management chose to continue to ship anyways, and keep the lines running while trying to solve problems and bring the yields up. Whenever something failed and there was a question about whether the test result was false, they would remove that test, retest and ship, or see if the unit would boot a game and run briefly and then ship. 360 is too complex of a machine to get away with that."

"In the end I think it was fear of failure, ambition to beat Sony, and the arrogance that they could figure anything out, that led to the decision to keep shipping. That management team had made some pretty bad decisions in the past and had never had to pay a proportional consequence. I'm sure they thought that somehow they would figure it out and everything would end up ok. Plus, they tend to make big decisions like that in terms of dollars. They would rationalize that if the first few million boxes had a high failure rate, a few 10's of millions of dollars would cover it. And contrasting that cost with a big lead on Sony, would pay it in a heartbeat. They weren't even thinking about Nintendo."

Head over to 8bitjoystick's blog to read the rest of the interview. Be warned, it's fairly lengthy.
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