Microsoft may have known about the Xbox 360’s disc-scratching problem since October 2005, according to recently unsealed motions from a lawsuit filed against the company in the U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Microsoft is currently defending several lawsuits that claim the Xbox 360 is defectively designed, causing damage and scratches to inserted discs when moved. Comments from the court document
(PDF) appear to suggest that Microsoft knew about the problem before the console's launch in November 2005.
"This is ... information that we as a team, optical disc drive team, knew about," says Microsoft program manager Hiroo Umeno, according to a report on the court documents
from The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
"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 document suggests that the problem happens when the console is titled or moved with a disc inside, causing the disc to become "unchucked" and hitting against the disc drive’s optical pickup unit. Other consoles include safeguards to ensure this does not happen, but the Xbox 360 does not.
Three possible solutions for the problem were subsequently identified, but Microsoft didn't act on them. Instead, it chose to offer a disc replacement program for damaged discs -- although only for Microsoft published titles and at a cost of $20 per disc.
The company added a warning label concerning the problem, and further warnings in the console manual, but the court motion indicates that Microsoft employees considered this to be "patently insufficient."