VentureBeat has a lengthy story about the situation surrounding the Xbox 360's "Red Ring of Death." It starts with the developmental phases for the 360, looks at the marketing decisions that drove Microsoft to aim for a release ahead of the PS3, and talks with sources and engineers within Microsoft about what could have been done to prevent the problems
"Leading up to the launch in the fall of 2005, the number of defective units would soon grow to tens of thousands. Any other consumer electronics company would likely have postponed a launch with such low yields. But Microsoft had more money in the bank than anyone else. The decision this time would fall to Bach and Moore. The costs of launching with low yields -- where you take big losses on every product sold -- could bankrupt other companies. But Microsoft could afford to do so. Microsoft did delay the launch date from October until November. But some inside the company still believed returns would be out of control."