Though the Xbox 360 beat its competitors to market by a year, Microsoft paid a heavy price for the privilege of launching in November 2005. According to research done by VentureBeat's Dean Takahashi, 360 hardware was experiencing a 68 percent failure rate off of the assembly line at one point. Once on sale, the console was beset by so many "Red Ring of Death" (RROD) errors that Microsoft spent upwards of $1 billion replacing more than 1.2 million of the initial batch of 11.6 million 360s under an unprecedented three-year warranty plan.
Now, in addition to the infamous RROD, Microsoft's warranty will cover a new issue with the 360 hardware. After weeks of increasing reports of consoles displaying an "E74 Error" after ceasing to function (pictured), the company has announced via its support Web site that the completely free, three-year warranty is being extended to cover the problem--which is apparently RROD-related.
"While the majority of Xbox 360 owners continue to have a great experience with their console, we are aware that a very small percentage of our customers have reported receiving an error that displays 'E74' on their screen," the company said in a statement. "After investigating the issue, we have determined that the E74 error message can indicate the general hardware failure that is associated with three flashing red lights error on the console."
As with the RROD, the warranty covers the Xbox 360 for only three years after its date of manufacture, which can be found on the back of the box. As many early adopters have discovered, consoles made during the 360's first six months on the market are no longer covered and will have to be replaced at the owner's expense. Microsoft is assuring purchasers of new 360s that it has "already made improvements to the console that will reduce the likelihood of an occurrence of this issue."
Anyone experiencing the E74 error should visit www.xbox.com/support to see if his or her console is under warranty. As with the RROD, Microsoft will send a mailer that will let owners send in their afflicted 360 and receive a replacement free of charge. Those who already paid Microsoft out of pocket to have the E74 issue fixed will be automatically refunded the cost of the repair in the next 4 to 12 weeks.