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Microsoft Docs Indicate Future Xbox 360 Support For USB Storage 130

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-thing-you-didn't-shell-for-the-big-hdd dept.
Internal Microsoft documents obtained by Joystiq indicate that its Xbox 360 console will gain support for USB storage devices some time this Spring. "According to the document, the USB mass storage device must be at least 1GB and the system will do a compatibility check. 'The system partition occupies 512 MB of space, and by default the consumer partition occupies the remainder of the device capacity, or 16 GB, whichever is smaller.' Upon inserting a blank USB storage device, 'consumers are offered two choices: "Configure now" or "Customize."' The 'Configure now' option will use 'the entire device capacity, up to the maximum of 512 MB plus 16 GB,' meaning, regardless of the overall size of the device you're using, the Xbox will only enable 16 GB of usable, non-system storage. The 'Customize' option will allow you to 'preserve some pre-existing, non-console data on the device' such as music." There have also been rumors of a new, smaller form factor for the 360, and hacker Ben Heck has given his thoughts on some leaked motherboard pictures.
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Microsoft Docs Indicate Future Xbox 360 Support For USB Storage

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  • Orly? (Score:5, Funny)

    by somersault (912633) on Friday March 19, 2010 @06:30AM (#31534274) Homepage Journal

    I'm surprised I haven't seen PS3 fanboys laughing about this before.. it's even worse than not being able to watch DVDs on your Wii's DVD drive..

    • Re:Orly? (Score:5, Funny)

      by ShakaUVM (157947) on Friday March 19, 2010 @07:40AM (#31534602) Homepage Journal

      >>I'm surprised I haven't seen PS3 fanboys laughing about this before.. it's even worse than not being able to watch DVDs on your Wii's DVD drive..

      Or, uh, PC gamer fanboys, who have been able to use USB drives with their gaming boxes since ~1998.

      • Yep, but they don't tend to chip in so much and so obnoxiously in these console wars.

        Disclaimer: I own a PS3, Wii, DS, PSP and used to love PC gaming too but have no need for it at the moment.

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      it's even worse than not being able to watch DVDs on your Wii's DVD drive..

      Is this actually a problem for anyone? Who owns a Wii, doesn't own a DVD player but has a desire to play DVDs? DVD players are so cheap you just go and buy one.
      • by DrXym (126579)
        Is this actually a problem for anyone? Who owns a Wii, doesn't own a DVD player but has a desire to play DVDs? DVD players are so cheap you just go and buy one.

        That may be so, but it doesn't explain why the Wii doesn't offer DVD playback even as a feature available for a nominal sum of money. Some people don't like having two devices plugged into their TV when the one they already own is more than adequate for the task.

      • It's just a pain in the ass. It's much nicer to have one device that does everything. At my mum's house there is a freeview box, PS2 and a Wii. The TV only has 2 SCART inputs too - one of which is taken up by the freeview box. So if the Wii is plugged in and you want to watch a DVD you have to go round the back of the TV and switch the cables around (or use a switcher box as I'm sure some people want to point out).

        Compare this to my PS3: I can play my music, watch digital video files, watch TV (with the Pla

    • by DrXym (126579)
      I'm surprised I haven't seen PS3 fanboys laughing about this before.. it's even worse than not being able to watch DVDs on your Wii's DVD drive..

      The PS3 let's you plug any FAT formatted devices into the PS3 and read / write unprotected content to & from the device. You can also backup your files to a device assuming it has the space. What you can't do is use the disk for ad hoc storage of protected content except through the backup mechanism.

      The MS solution appears to repartition the device. Presuma

    • by prionic6 (858109)

      The Xbox plays media content from USB Mass Storage just fine. This is talking about storing game data (savegames, probably DLC and so on), which is at the moment only possible on the internal hdd or custom memory cards.

      • Ah, that's not so bad then - but the artificial limitations are still pathetic money grubbing on Microsoft's part.

  • Still Xbox 360? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord Lode (1290856) on Friday March 19, 2010 @06:35AM (#31534300)

    They're still developing new Xbox 360 versions? Usually after so many years, there appear new consoles. But this time it seems none of the big 3 console makers has any plans for this.

    Another indication that processing speeds aren't really increasing anymore these days?

    • Re:Still Xbox 360? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday March 19, 2010 @06:48AM (#31534368) Journal
      The more accurate term would probably be "revision" rather than "version".

      With the limited exception of assimilating certain things that used to be optional extras as they become cheap(eg. original PS2 had ethernet as an add-on module, by the time the PS2 slim came around, an embedded NIC was much more sensible than an option port), console makers don't really have much incentive to change specs too often, since they are generally trying to cut costs over the console's lifetime, and avoid fragmentation of the market.

      However, while substantial spec changes are comparatively rare, and have historically proven to be a bad idea, most consoles go through numerous revisions(some fairly subtle, and visible only to people who care about inspecting motherboards in detail, others quite visible for marketing purposes, like the new PS3 design) that leave the specs largely the same +/- a few nonessential peripherals; but aim at reducing production costs and correcting flaws in older designs.
    • by guruevi (827432)

      Processor speeds are increasing. However they are irrelevant for most home-and-garden computer varieties. Heck, I actively look for processors that have less power and are smaller for home (Mac Mini vs. Mid-Tower).

      I also work with a biomedics lab and I'm actively looking for a "quiet" 4-way or 8-way workstation which can also fit a couple of nVidia Tesla's - something you need a 1.5-2kW power supply for. I'm waiting for the new Xeon's to come out first though since they think the current generation 2-way qu

    • by Spatial (1235392)

      Another indication that processing speeds aren't really increasing anymore these days?

      They are increasing, hugely. Clock speed != processing speed, despite Intels' stupid Pentium 4 marketing.

    • Now that they (the consoles) have established a beachhead with digital printing presses (online digital media stores) the need for new hardware becomes less and less. We arent going to see a truly new console for at least 5 more years. Even then its going to be an iteration with full backwards compatibility, rather then full out innovation and all new hardware/software Simply put, the software they have now is good enough to make A LOT of money so there is no pressure for new hardware.
  • by Vectormatic (1759674) on Friday March 19, 2010 @06:36AM (#31534304)

    Does this means i can use my simple USB stick instead of a memory card to keep my savegames on? (i have two xboxes, so i need portability)

    Either MS just killed their memorycard business, or this usb stuff is rather useless..

    Also, YAY now you can just get the cheapest arcade xbox you can find, and a $10 usb stick, and have massive fun

    • by WWWWolf (2428)

      Does this means i can use my simple USB stick instead of a memory card to keep my savegames on? (i have two xboxes, so i need portability)

      What I would like to know if they'd support memory card readers. I can play music on Xbox 360 off USB drives, but not SD memory cards through an USB card reader... which is a little bit silly, because to my Linux box, the card reader just shows up as a yet another USB mass storage device. (I haven't tried the photo app on 360, which sounds like it could conceivably support card readers.)

      Either MS just killed their memorycard business,

      And good riddance to that! Console-specific memory cards suck, standard card formats rule! I cheered when I found out that

    • by radish (98371)

      Yes it does, and yes they have. The assumption is the upcoming 360 slim doesn't have space for the memory card slots.

    • by bynary (827120)
      Microsoft stopped supporting memory cards in their in-store kiosks awhile back which would indicate their interest in supporting them on the console would probably be waning. I'm not surprised. Also, where does one find a 16.5 GB USB thumb drive?
  • Oy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tridus (79566) on Friday March 19, 2010 @06:51AM (#31534388) Homepage

    So you can connect an external storage unit, but it'll only use 16GB of it? That's a bit less then the size of the smallest 360 hard drive, which they don't even sell anymore.

    I guess they don't want to cannibalize their outrageously priced upgrade drive business.

    • by iainl (136759)

      Actually, once you've lost space to the various cache partitions the 360 wishes to have to speed up your loading, and the ones that are required to offer compatibility on XBox 1 games, the useable partition for saves / installs / whatever on a 20Gb 360 drive is only about 13.5 Gb. So this isn't as bad as it sounds.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by somersault (912633)

      For comparison I've upgraded my PS3 with a 320GB internal drive for installing games and recording TV, and I regularly connect up external USB drives to transfer media or save games. Any FAT32 formatted drive works, including my 500GB Passport.

      Microsoft are really fucking people over here. Big surprise..

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by iainl (136759)

        Although given how rife savegame hacking is on the PS3, it does demonstrate that MS aren't _completely_ talking out of their backside when they claim this is why they have until now not liked third-party memory units. I'm guessing there will be some barriers to playing around with the data in these custom partitions.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          And savegame hacking is a problem how?

          If people want to ruin their game experience by cheating or whatever, that's up to them.

          • by tepples (727027)

            And savegame hacking is a problem how?

            If people want to ruin their game experience by cheating or whatever, that's up to them.

            It's not the ability to ruin your game experience as much as the ability to run that of your online opponents.

            • Re:Oy (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@co[ ]ll.edu ['rne' in gap]> on Friday March 19, 2010 @09:19AM (#31535522) Homepage

              Any online game that allows a savegame hack to affect online play violates the "do not trust the client... EVER." mantra.

              Violating that mantra almost always leads to crap multiplayer with rampant cheating for one reason or another. When I first saw Crysis' description of why they separated DX10 players from DX9 (more powerful systems to perform physics calculations on, implying that world physics was *offloaded to the client*) I was worried that multiplayer was going to have some cheating problems. Boy was I right... I played multiplayer for about a week then uninstalled Crysis. It's NOT good when someone can change one XML file and make their pistol bullets do 9999999 damage and their vehicles immune to all weapons fire.

              • Any online game that allows a savegame hack to affect online play violates the "do not trust the client... EVER." mantra.

                In all but MMO games, one of the clients also acts as the server. Whom should the players trust?

                • by jonwil (467024)

                  Many companies have server infrastructure that handles things to make cheating and save games harder.

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by Andy Dodd (701)

                  Maybe it has changed, but for a long time, most games had "dedicated" servers.

                  Yes, you had to trust the server admin, but at least they would have incentive to "play honest" - otherwise no one would use their server. Since dedicated server admins usually have a bit more invested into hosting a server (in terms of bandwidth, etc), they're less likely to screw around.

                  Client-side cheaters, on the other hand, can be douchebaggy on any server.

                  Also, as someone else said, a lot of games have hosted servers for no

            • most multiplayer games are locked, most major releases have been locked since trophies actually

              • I'm very unhappy with this situation. I really preferred portability of my game saves over trophies. I don't really play online so I could care less about that aspect of it.

          • by iainl (136759)

            Were you only playing single-player titles, I couldn't care in the least, although it does rather indicate why people don't care about Trophies as much as they do Achievements. When you use it to create an unfair advantage in multiplayer games, it reminds me of the worth of my Live subscription fee.

          • by MBGMorden (803437)

            The problem isn't that it's just you. Namely, achievements on the 360 are a big thing. They're competitive, and a bit of a status symbol (before anybody starts yelling at me about that let me just say that I'm stating it like it is - my 360 hasn't been turned on in over a month and my game collection is pretty small - about 8 games total). If you can hack your savegames, then you can "earn" achievements on Xbox Live that you didn't technically earn. That gives you an unfair advantage against others in t

        • Some games do restrict copying of savegames. Others don't. I don't see why it should matter anyway, it's up to the player if they want to miss out on half of the game by cheating.. personally I don't usually mess around with cheats until I've completed the game properly.

    • by joe_kull (238178)

      16.5GB ought to be enough for anyone.

    • by deniable (76198)

      I guess they don't want to cannibalize their outrageously priced upgrade drive business.

      I figured they'd go for something like an optional SSD in the same form factor as the hard drives. Should be good for some high margin.

  • Strange Sizing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clickety6 (141178) on Friday March 19, 2010 @07:46AM (#31534650)

    The 'Configure now' option will use 'the entire device capacity, up to the maximum of 512 MB plus 16 GB,'

    So who sells 16.5 GB USB sticks?

  • I'll care... (Score:2, Insightful)

    ...when I can hook up a mouse and keyboard and actually be able to control games with them. My own personal hell is to have to play CODMW2 with a damn joystick.
    • http://store.steampowered.com/app/10180/ [steampowered.com]

      Here's your ladder out of hell (and into another).

    • Last time I checked, the 360 itself supports USB mouse and keyboard.

      Which means the developer decided not to support it, or you just never tried it.

      • by radish (98371)

        Games are not allowed to be controllable via mouse/keyboard although the system does support them for entering text etc. The PS3 is the same, FYI. There are a number of reasons for the restriction, some good some bad.

        • PS3 has no such restriction.

          UT3 plays with mouse and keyboard just fine.

          • by radish (98371)

            Huh, didn't know that. Thanks for the correction :)

            • Also, I use a custom built PCB that reports as a standard USB HID joystick and works just fine for Street Fighter 4 and generally as a PS3 digital only device.

              (For more info: google: Toodles Cthulhu PCB)

      • You're right, it does. That's why I said "...actually be able to control games". But is it the developers or is it that MS never built it in to the SDK? I would think that MS would rather keep their PC and console games separate so hardcore gamers are forced to stick with PC because that's more potential revenue for them. Maybe some software developers out there know the answer to this...
  • The 16GB limit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NeverNow (611234) on Friday March 19, 2010 @09:03AM (#31535216)
    In TFA, they asked Heck whether the 16GB limit is a technological limitation of file systems or a deliberate choice. It seems pretty obvious to me that it's artificial and meant to protect their disk drive market. Considering that USB devices will, unlike now, be trusted storage where one can write DLC, XBLA games and even full game installs and GOD, there's no reason why one would use an externally powered USB drive instead of a small pendrive. That would mean 100$ for a 1TB drive, going in the drive maker's pockets, instead of 100$ for a 120GB drive, going in MS's pockets.
    • by numbski (515011)

      There's a program out now for the iPhone via an external cydia repo that emulates a usb drive at whatever size and specs you like. It's all stored in a virtual container. Let them set this up however they like - emulating that setup on the iphone will happen in 3, 2,...

  • When I first read about this, I thought that I'd finally be able to use my NTFS formatted FreeAgent external drive on my 360. Too bad this isn't the case. It's ironic that the 360 doesn't seem to be able to use external drives formatted using the same file system being used in current Windows operating systems.
  • by paulhar (652995) on Friday March 19, 2010 @09:30AM (#31535740)

    My xbox 360 has a 250GB external USB drive attached to it that is used to store copies of home movies.

    Although the article isn't as clear as it could be, this is really about adding support for Xbox downloadable content to use USB storage.

    Oh, and for a laugh - currently the Xbox can't read NTFS format drives. FAT isn't suitable. So... use a mac, format as HFS+, and the xbox will happily use them.

  • so couldnt you just make 16gb partitions and have it use multiple ones?
  • what about cheating? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Friday March 19, 2010 @11:47AM (#31538886)

    When MS dropped the hammer on Datel's large, 3rd party memory cards, they said they had to do it since those devices allowed cheating. That is, they were read/writable from non-Xboxes since they used SD cards for storage and thus you could easily mod saves.

    How does MS square that with this action? This device is read/writeable from non-Xboxes since it's regular USB, isn't it?

    I personally never believed that MS' actions were for any reason other than to protect their revenue stream. But can't really go back on their story now, can they? Can Datel sue over something like this if they do?

    • It may be read/writable but you can bet bet your a$$ it will be encrypted. You can probably only copy stuff to it from an Xbox and vice versa. Stop those cheats hacking their saved games.

      • Hmm. That's an interesting point. But if the Xbox can write the data in an encrypted form, then that means the Xbox knows the encryption key and thus it can be extracted and put into software on a PC to write it and presumably read it too.

        The extraction may be difficult (in fact I would expect it to be), but it's possible to do so.

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      They could address the issue by using encryption, checksums, and so forth. Of course, they could have done that for third-party cards too, but if they weren't planning to support externally read/write-capable devices they wouldn't have had a need for security on the data. Now that they are adding such support, it's *possible* that they will also add such encryption.

  • The 360 needs two cable card readers and the ability to plug in HUGE USB storage devices (1tb HHDs for example). Two cable card readers in the thing and people would start to wonder why they would by a stand alone DVR at all. The 360 has always been just one or two upgrades away from being the perfect home entertainment center. I think the only thing left is cablecard readers and USG mass storage.
  • Microsoft has managed a profit on the 360 by screwing consumers over at every corner. They have the only paid net service which has no browser so you're tied into what they want you to see. You have to buy wifi seperately at an insane cost. Same with upgrading your hard drive. You can only use their special hard drive which funnily enough costs way more than it should.

    Despite their year lead and their supposed superior list of games the PS3 has zoomed up on their ass and has a slim chance of over taking

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