Report: MSFT Knew Xbox 360 Scratches Discs

The dreaded “Red Ring of Death” is the most well-known and publicized system error for the Xbox 360. One lesser known, but still common enough defect is the Xbox 360’s nasty habit of scratching discs while inside the console, creating another undesirable type of ring of death.

According to a blog post on the Seattle P-I, Microsoft was supposedly aware of this hardware fault even before the system’s launch in November 2005. This was uncovered in newly unsealed documents (PDF) with declarations of Microsoft employees.

A Microsoft program manager was quoted in the declaration saying, "This is ... information that we as a team, optical disc drive team, knew about. When we first discovered the problem in September or October (2005), when we got a first report of disc movement, we knew this is what’s causing the problem."

The big issue was that the Xbox 360 would scratch discs if the console was moved with a disc spinning inside. Microsoft allegedly knew about the issues and considered three possible solutions, but none of which were put into place.

Microsoft has faced several lawsuits, the most recent one earlier this month, for scratched discs. More than 55,000 complaints are on file regarding the disc scratching issue, according to the P-I’s inspection of the motion.

Marcus Yam is a technology evangelist for Intel Corporation, the latest in a long line of tech-focused roles spanning a more than 20-year career in the industry. As Executive Editor, News on Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, Marcus was responsible for shaping the sites' news output, and he also spent a period as Editor of Outdoors & Sports at Digital Trends.

  • Mind you, there's a big sticker on the drive tray telling you to not move the console while it is powered and there is a disc in the tray.

    This just in folks: Architects have known for years that people could jump off of taller buildings and die!
  • blackwidow_rsa
    let someone move his ps3 or wii and this won't happen. ms shouldve solved it
  • TheFace
    I have had my 360 scratch discs without me moving it at all. Both the horizontal position and the vertical position will do this. Also the 'chugging' problem on startup or whenever a lot of loading is required. Now that I can install a game to my HDD I have done so on the games that I play most.
  • that_aznpride101
    There have been complaints that people's discs still got scratched even when the console has NOT been moved.
  • I've noticed this problem in my Wii actually... it was set horizontally, and i noticed that when my sister lifted it up rather gently while a game was playing to get a magazine underneath it, it scratched my game rather badly. I was very disappointed, as I didn't think the console would be that sensitive to movement. Luckily the game still plays though.
  • michaelzehr
    According to another article I read this could have been fixed by 50 cent pads, but MS decided that was too expensive. Based on that I imagine this will come down to whether MS used common engineering practices in their drives. If this is a common problem in consoles I would think MS would be ok; if the damage is from cutting corners that most manufactures don't, they could have problems. We'll find out in a couple years I suppose.
  • when the optical disc is spinning very fast in a very tight space, it can easily damage the disc or the drive if you move it suddenly. Try this, holding a bicycle front wheel with both hands and have a friend spin the wheel. Try to change the wheel direction, you will have a good feel that there is an opposing force pushing in different direction then where you try to go.

    Same here in the optical driver. It is simple clam by a small round disk to hold the game cd in place. If you move the console, the force will apply on the game cd and cause it to off balance and the laser reader will try to compensate by moving front or back or focusing closer to the CD, then it start to scratch the CD and the lens. I have seen some "laser reading head" doing the height adjustment when it is having problem to reading the disc. Also some laser head is simply floating in the glove position on the moving arm. This is the worst one.

    Also bewared of CD quality that is too thin, it gets deforms easily. Or the head need to do more work to read.
  • Tekkamanraiden
    $.50 multiplied by 22 million units sold is $11,000,000. That's a lot of money saved. Granted yes I would have rather they spend the $.50 to completely prevent the possibility of scratching the disc. Still common sense would suggest moving something electronic with moving parts while its on is at best unwise and at worse completely stupid.
  • the last resort
    kinda off topic, but my PS2 ruined my NFS Most Wanted Black Edition because the laser was out of alignment. I had sent it in several times before, until they refused to fix it for free anymore so I started fixing it myself. What would happen is the laser would try to focus by moving up and down. However, it was so far out of position that when it moved the laser closer to the disc, the lens scraped the disc, actually shredding plastic into the drive, which I found later when I opened it up to fix it again.
  • zodiacfml
    same thing happening to all discs of my old xbox and never had moved the console when its powered on.