An open letter to Microsoft about the Xbox2 / nextThis seems to be a trendy thing to be doing these days. So I figured I'd write my own ;). In all reality though I am very serious in this letter and welcome a response from Microsoft on these issues. Furthermore, if they would sign a disk, bootable in my un-modded Halo edition box with both Ed's Debian and XBMC on it I would happily pay them $100 for it. Hopefully the entire community would be willing to do the same. I think it is highly unlikely that we can get Microsoft to embrace the modding community, but just think of the possibilities if it were to happen!
Let me begin by saying how pleased I have been with my Xbox. I now own 3 units (having recently given one away) and could not be happier with them. I believe that your controller design is excellent and I have nothing but high praises for the overall quality of the unit (especially at its current price point of $150.00 US).
As I am sure you are aware Your console has been the subject of many forums and websites. Many (including mine) deal with how to modify the console. While I understand that this has you very nervous as far as game piracy I still think it is a good thing. I will admit to owning a modified console. I will admit that I have software on said console which was developed by people who used the Xbox SDK to compile the application. What I have not done is pirate any of your games. As I see it, the major problem for you is that the ability to run homebrew games on the xbox also confers the ability to run and pirate games.
I would like to propose something to you for implementation on your next generation console:
Make the hardware open and provide the SDK for free or a nominal cost (say $100 or so.) In return I am sure you will find that your console sales will far surpass Sony's, especially if the Xbox continues to be as easy to develop applications for. Spend all your effort, not on protecting the hardware from running unsigned code, but rather on protecting your games from piracy.
If you look at the current offerings from the homebrew market it is amazing what is available for the xbox. Here is a sample:
Stella: Now I can play all my childhood Atari 2600 favorites on the xbox. I even developed a mod to allow an Atari joystick to run on an Xbox. (I'd love to make a cartridge reader too, but that would be a little harder ;)
MAME: All I have to say is: Gauntlet! I actually own the boards and ROMs for the arcade game, but never got around to building/buying a cabinet, I don't have any space for it in my apartment. Now I can play this awesome arcade game.
XBMP: I have my xbox as a set-top box that can play my music collection from my PC and any movies I happen to have.
BomberBox: a very simple and highly addictive game. Try it sometime. I'll bet Bill and Paul could burn at least half a day on this game before they got even remotely tired of it.
Linux: I know you hate it, but it's very cool to have a web browser and all the other stuff it provides on my box. Port Windows 2K and we'll see about un-installing Linux, m'kay?
EvolutionX: an awesome dashboard that lets me operate all these cool programs
I also have two of your games on my xbox. Halo and Mechassault. I bought Robotech, but I was so disappointed in it that I deleted it off my drive to make space for more Halo map mods. Only one of my boxes has Mechassault, and all three of my boxes has Halo. Now, you might be yelling PIRATE at the top of your lungs about now, but I OWN three copies of Halo. I will be buying three copies of Halo2 as well.
So Microsoft, I have a deal for you. If you make the next rev of the Xbox platform open, and provide the SDK for a reasonable cost (say 2X the cost of one normal priced game), I pledge that I will not pirate any of your games, and I will be outspoken against those who do. I'm sure you will find many other people who, like me have no desire to steal your intellectual property, but enjoy the community of developers who build exciting applications like the ones mentioned above.