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back to article Sony's PS3 firmware update shows how retailers can be exposed

Retailers face payouts to consumers that they will not be able to reclaim from manufacturers when software updates disable products' functions, an expert has warned. Consumer law protects the buyers of goods if their functions change, but retailers generally cannot pass those claims on to the device makers who made the change, …

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FAIL

Pathetic

is the word for it..

Nobody has pointed out how much Sony have given PS3 owners for FREE over the last 3 years. Things like DLNA Media streaming, Profile 2.0 BD, upcoming 3D support, Trophy support, Home, Video download service, DivX support and loads more besides.

They never charged for ANY of those, and each one added significantly to the product.

A few idiots (Or Microsoft viral marketeers) seem to be leading army of clueless idiots into a battle they previously did not care about.

Lets not Forget that Microsoft and Nintendo have already done the same, but the media seems to have swept that under the carpet.

Microsoft removed the ability to batch download all titles from XBLA in the NXE Update.

Nintendo removed the ability to play MP3 in a firmware update for the Wii.

Glass houses and stones?

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FAIL

Re: Pathetic

And who bought a PS3 with the expectation or desire that those supposed 'new features' would be added? Absolutely nobody. Who bought a PS3 with the desire to use the advertised functionality (such as OtherOS)? Many, many, many people. They've been scammed by Sony, no argument against it.

Using your braindead logic, how about Sony decides "next firmware update will disable playing of games on none Brava TVs, but it's okay because as compensation we'll let you choose your start up sound"

As for Xbox 360, it never had the ability to batch download all titles from XBLA. You can add them in bulk to your download queue though, if you want.

Nintendo updated the photo application to play AAC instead of MP3. You are free to install and uninstall this as you desire, switching between the AAC and MP3 version. It's not even a firmware update, it's an application update.

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What updates? Sony hasn't added anything I use/care about

You are saying I should be thankful for a bunch of updates for the PS3 that I don't user or care about? DLNA media streaming? It's a game system, I didn't buy it to stream media to. Profile 2.0 BD? I use a Panasonic Blu-ray player to play my DVDs, not the PS3. The PS3 is a horrible DVD player. Trophy support? My login to Sony's game network never registered correctly so I was never able to use that. Video, DivX, etc. again not using those.

So by your logic they owe me even MORE money because those updates didn't apply to me since that's the only way you justified this move.

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Grenade

Stay with the facts

Sony was under no obligation to supply such updates, and frankly, I don't care one iota about it. It's like giving me genuine Havana cigar while I don't even smoke. Besides, the damn thing is expensive enough.

However, they DO have a formal, legal obligation to supply as described as that is the basis on which a consumer decides to buy a product. In this case the description failed the Trade Descriptions Act because it didn't include the statement "until we feel like withdrawing it" with all the features described. The only difference between the ability to install Linux and it playing back Blueray is that it happens to make them money, but as features they have equal value under law.

What sucks is that the retailers get it in the neck. I'm not 100% in agreement with the author that a vendor is powerless - depends on their size. What's more, if one shows some balls most of them will join.

However, I think this is by now a waste of time. Those who are intelligent enough to want the Linux feature are also intelligent enough to realise they can no longer trust any kind of Sony kit.

A vendor who is prepared to remove functionality after you have bought a product simply cannot be trusted. I, for one, will not buy Sony again. So, the good news is that Sony saves a few bucks, the bad news is that that is several thousand pounds pro annum in sales gone.

Dumb.

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Confused

You just negated your own argument. You state yourself that 'its a game machine'.

So go and play games on the thing. Stop bitching about no linux support which is basically what this is all about.

So by your own logic they owe you nothing.

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RE: Pathetic

"Microsoft removed the ability to batch download all titles from XBLA in the NXE Update."

You are talking about the ability to automatically download XBLA demos.

This was never a feature of the original Xbox 360 firmware. It was added in a later firmware revision. Further, I'm not sure that Microsoft ever used this feature in their console advertising, whereas Sony advertised the Other OS option as part of the PS3.

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting

Probably hard to make it stick, though.

How does this apply to software which is missing features that were supposed to be present at launch, but over a year later are broken, or completely absent?

(In this case, thinking of the horribly buggy and feature-incomplete Bibble 5 "pro", but you can substitute for your software of choice).

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INAL, but ...

"[Sony] told reporters that the machine's main function was as a gaming console", yet I'm sure I've read that Sony got the PS3 (unlike the PS1/2) classed as a computer instead of a games console to avoid additional taxes on electronic entertainment devices in the EU.

If this is true, will they now be liable to pay all those taxes?

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Alert

You could be right - El Reg could ask

Actually, I think this is a question El Reg could ask HMCE, because it's their turf. Would be a very cool update to the article IMHO. Excellent suggestion.

El Reg - comment?

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FAIL

Sony's PS3 firmware `update`

Ah, yes, SONY!!!

What other anti consumer moves have they made in recent years, can anyone remember?? I seem to recall a `rootkit` fiasco a few years ago. I guess Sony will never learn. There is only one way to protest this arrogance - vote with your wallet.

Just remember - "Sony, we don't want YOUR baloney" (a parody of one of their advertising `tag lines` from many years ago.)

Remind them that `money talks - bullsh!t walks!!!`

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Go

Vote with you inbox

Not that I've an axe to grind against Amazon/Game/etc., but if enough people claim back for the lost feature maybe retailers can then pass on the cost actual, and costs legal, of settling this with Sony.

Dammit this is supposed to be capitalism not ingsoc.

And on ingsoc, can we have this added to the comment icons... pretty, pretty please:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/6/6d/Flag_of_INGSOC.svg/200px-Flag_of_INGSOC.svg.png

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WTF?

SKy+ and Sky HD boxes

Given the text of this article, how are Sky allowed to disable the PVR functionality of a SKY+/Sky HD box if you no longer subscribe to their services. The Sky+ and Sky HD box is perfectly capable of recieving free-to-air satelite broadcasts but as I do not have a subscription to Sky any more the PVR functionality is disabled. Surely the action of limiting the functionality of the box after you have purchased it and used it with the PVR feature when you had a subscription for this feature to be disabled is equally against the law?

Anyone know how/why Sky are allowed to get away with this?

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Happy

They probably get away with it...

...because nobody has challenged them on it yet.

Over to you.... :-)

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Well duh

Because Sky's packaging, advertising and website have always made it clear that an active subscription is required to enable the recording features. Sky has also always been synonymous with pay TV. You'd have to be incredibly stupid and/or ignorant to buy a Sky PVR without knowing that a subscription is recommended.

In any case caller ID capable telephones are sold with warnings that you often need a subscription to activate the feature. In fact telephones have always been useless without some form of subscription. Cars are sold without the dealers having to point out that they require an annual subscription and refuelling.

Put simply:The law is there to protect you against shoddy workmanship and malicious retailers. It is not a replacement for basic common sense and knowledge of what you are buying.

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Boffin

Re: SKy+ and Sky HD boxes

That is slightly different in that it is within the initial specs of the Sky+ box that you need to pay a sub to get the PVR function, and so what they are doing is stopping a service that is no longer being paid for, in the same way as you can't get Sky 1 as you don't pay a sub, although the EPG shows it there.

IANAL but to me the main difference, (at least legally, morally may be different), is when you get the Sky+ box you are, (or should be) told that PVR costs extra and can be removed, with the PS3 buyers were told that the feature was integral with no extra costs and therefore should remain available.

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Linux

Disablement

It depends if that was in the original sale agreement of the PVR.

If they state that the functionality is only enabled with an active subscription then I guess you are stuck with it.

In this case, when somebody bought a PS3 at the time that "Other OS" support was widely touted by Sony (for their tax break I believe) I don't know of any contract wording mentioning that they reserve the right to withdraw this facility at any time and for any reason as a part of retaining access to PSN, another advertised feature of the console.

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FAIL

Because...

You pay Sky for the feature and when you stop paying them they remove it. I paid for a console which allowed me to install another OS... now I can't.

Hope that helps

Natty

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They're all crooks.

I always got the impression from both Virgin Media and Sky that you RENTED the PVR service as well as the hardware rather than owning either.

Its a little different knowing I'm stuck in an x month subscription to get the services I want from a company, rather than paying cash for a product that I *own* only to have the game changed on me.

tl;dr: I believe what virgin/sky do is legal (opposed to what sony have pulled) -but it still sucks.

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Troll

just wandering

1- doesn't the fact that the update was *optional* matter?

2- the update clearly indicated that the said functionality will be lost if it was applied, yet the user went ahead and applied that batch, doesn't this matter?

3- how do you measure the price of the extra feature? I for one never used, and it is not a core feature, so how do you measure the refund value? you can't just say 25% of the price, can you?

4- doesn't the user need to prove that s/he was using the feature in order to claim damage? If the user never used the feature then the update never effected the user, doesn't this mean that the user is getting a refund "while fully satisfied" with the product?

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FAIL

"Wander" all you like

Let me tackle the first two points:

1) The update was optional, yes, but if you wanted to retain the ability to use the PSN for online gaming (another feature selling point of the console) you had to apply it. So really the choice was lose Feature A or Feature B. That does not make an optional update.

2) See above. If I ask for your wallet at knife point and you give me said wallet, is it no longer theft?

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optional my arse.

Going with the virgin/sky+ comparision above, its like telling customers

"Optional Update; you can EITHER watch live TV or watch the stuff you have already recorded".

The choice is yours, but it kinda cripples the functionality of a combined system.

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FAIL

like there was a choice

no...no choice...you eother got the update installed or you could no longer use PSN

thats an interesting form of contact....and non-negotiable either.

Sony have messed up, they've removed a feature present at purchase (I dont care about any features added since purchase...i didnt pay for those in the shop) - and lost a lot, if not all, of my trust.

i believe the otherOS feature was there also to get it rated as a computer system and thus avoid some tax. i'm sure some people will be interested in ensuring ALL back-pay is now given to the tax man

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Coat

Vat Man

Being as they got a 'benifit' from importing the PS3 initially as a computer will they be paying back the vatman then?

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Unhappy

Sarbanes Oxley

It's funny, I'm pretty sure that SOX was the reason that Apple *had* to charge some users for a firmware upgrade, as it delivered new benefits to a consumer (similar to when they charged for the 802.11n upgrade to the Macbooks Pros). You would think that the opposite applied in this case and that Sony owes its customers for removing a benefit?

I'm tempted to try and get a refund for my fat PS3... and use it to buy a slim PS3 instead ;-) I care not a jot about the "Install Other OS" option, but if I can use it to my advantage...

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Bronze badge

It's like buying a TV then they close down the TV station.

Or, closer, you buy a device that receives TV and radio, then they say to receive continued service you need to take a free upgrade that means your device will receive TV or receive radio, but not both.

See, online games playing is television in this analogy, and running an alternate operating system is radio, and what you ACTUALLY decide to do is take their system upgrade so that you keep televisiuon or lose radio, or DON'T take their ACTUAL upgrade, and then you can keep radio but you don't get television any more.

But,swhat would be the legal position if they just closed down their online play facility outright? I bet they have language in the contract or specification to try to protect them.

And if retailers have given customers refunds, that doesn't always mean that they legally HAD to. Sometimes a refund is just cheaper than either spending time handling an unhappy customer, or just ignoring the unhappy customer and having them complain loudly in public. Even when the customer's unhappiness isn't something that you're legally liable for.

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Thumb Up

In the UK

the retailer is very much the one responsible for the customers happiness.

That's why Comet are fixing my washing machine 8 months after the manufacturers warranty has run out.

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WTF?

Reasonable?

It's not something I have taken an interest in for ages, but if I remember correctly, most of these hacks to put Linux on games consoles are just that - they often involve some very strange and dark fiddling. It seems completely unreasonable to expect a manufacturer to support such operation (deliberately preventing it in some control-freakery kind of way - aka Apple, and probably in this case as well - is another point entirely).

Even if the manufacturer has said "runs different OS's", I'm sure they were referring to possible official future support. I'm sure the promo material doesn't say anything like "supports hacking about with the bios and generally mucking about with the firmware".

As such, this is way outside the normal intended use of the product and I am very surprised any retailer would provide a refund under the circumstances. I wouldn't.

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FAIL

OtherOS

The thing is, it isn't a hack, OtherOS is a feature (at least until you install this new firmware update) on the older PS3s (the fat model).

I believe that Sony even made a song and dance about running Linux on the PS3 and actually funded the port of Yellow Dog Linux to the PS3 (well I say port, YDL runs on PPC anyway, but they just added support for the PS3).

Installing Linux was easy too, it was a case of going into the system menu and selecting the option to install OtherOS. It would take you through an easy wizard where you specify how much hard drive space you want to allocate (10GB for PS3/rest of the space for Linux or 10GB for Linux/rest of the space for PS3) and then you popped in the CD/DVD (in my case Xubuntu) and install it.

Certainly wasn't a hack as it was to install Linux on the XBOX (which required some software or hardware modifications).

Rob

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WTF?

Sale of Goods Act

INAL, but don't the goods have to be FFP (fit for purpose) at time of sale? (which presumably they still were)

After 6 months doesn't the consumer have to prove that they weren't FFP at that time?

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Stop

re: sales of goods

not if it's known manufacturing problem (in this case an introduced manufacturer problem).

It's why you can get your RROD xbox fixed years after purchase

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Anonymous Coward

re... SKY

Unless you bought the Sky+/SkyHD box outright then I suppose they are perfectly entitled to disable functionality since it's still their box.

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going to lose-lose situation

So a company can be penalized for reducing the functionality of something. Which makes sense at a very high level. However companies like Sony who add functionality get no specific additional revenue from that (as AC#1 correctly identified.)

So if this goes too far, the lawyers will win, and no company will be willing to update their software for better or worse reasons. Then you'll have a "Playstation 3.1" or up-revs of hardware that you will have to buy to get newer software. In fact as most companies only really have a handle on shuffling boxes around and software is hard to pin down I'm surprised it isn't more common.

But what that then creates is that you get everybody whinging "but I just bought this and now there is another one out", and/or "company X, *give* me your new software on my old kit, for free."

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What did Sony give me for free?

Because I distinctly remember paying £425 for my PS3, and I distinctly remember Sony getting plenty of other money from me since for PSN purchases and games. Sony gave me the video download servcice for free? Seriously? Because from where I'm sitting, not only is it the most expensive video download service out there (do some quick price comparisons to iTunes, Microsoft's offerings and buying the videos on DVD) it's also something they won't let me use if I want to run Linux on my PS3.

Unsurprising to see the Sony shills posting anonymously and throwing around preemptive personal insults, I suppose. I've kind of got used to it recently.

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WTF?

A precedent ?

What if a manufacturer deliberately disables a more prominent feature of the console ?

Or even an update that renders a proportion of consoles unusable ?

Does all the liability fall onto the retailer - this could put people out of business.

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title

Interesting, although I should imagine not many people will fall into this category:

- The Slim PS3's have never been able to install Linux.

- The original, Linux enabled PS3 SKU's were end of life by October last year

- To install the patch, you have to accept the EULA, which warns you what it would do.

with the Common Sense hat on, only customers that bought an original PS3 new (Not an easy feat), with the 3.x firmware pre-installed would this apply to.

If you bought a fat PS3, then updated, then missed it, then it's a case of RTFM before clicking accept.

This doesn't take away the fact Sony leave you with the choice of Linux Workstatation OR Playstation Network Support, which does leave a bad taste. Sony are the closest it comes to open in console hardware at the moment (Standard, user upgradeable hard disks, the ability to backup your data to USB, broad Codec/Memory card/File sharing support..) So it's a shame to see them take a step back.

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Flame

RTFA

Never mind your "RTFM" suggestion, try reading the article. By *not* accepting the EULA, you're agreeing to losing the PSN/online gaming.

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WTF?

What

Sorry, you're saying that you don't think there are many owners of fat PS3s out there?

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title

I'm sure there are many, but I don't think it would be possible to buy a new Playstation 3 that's advertised with the Other OS Feature, which already has 3.x firmware installed. You'd have to install it yourself, which means agreeing to the downgrade (And Let's not beat around the bush; that's what it is) - in that case, would this piece of legislation apply, or would it fall into the same Catagory as Sky Boxes, as someone else mentioned?

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FAIL

@Pathetic

In Nintendo's case, the Photo Channel update is optional, it removes MP3s and adds AACs and the ability to change the photo shown in the menu.

If you have a Wii which came with the ability play MP3s, you can install and uninstall that Photo Channel update as many times as you want. Completely different to the PS3's case (a forced update which removes features which you paid for).

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Unhappy

This is only going to get worse

While I wonder how many users are using the "Linux" capability, I do know that for a friend of mine it was the "tipping point" in his buying decision. Something like well the kids can play games and if I want I can run Linux on it.

The interesting problem for any supplier is that Amazon, if the story is true, do appear to have put a £80 price tag on the loss of this functionality, and as such have opened the flood gates for anybody owning this particular PS3 to go get their refund from their supplier. Clearly if everybody who own one of these get their £80 pounds back companies like Amazon will extract their losses from Sony.

Their is a worry that as more consumer goods get wired up to the "INTERNET" to get "the latest update" the product you bought will change. Some of this is going to be good, like since the firmware update my washing machine will open the door at the end of the wash cycle. Some will be bad like my Sony TV will no longer receive BBC1 Watchdog as its considered a security risk by Sony.

While I do feel that in this case the manufacturers product functional description have proved as solid as a Labour Party Manifesto. I also feel that the consumer should have some direct recourse to the manufacturer if he feels that the product as sold has been "damaged" by a software update.

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FAIL

You're missing the point....

Interesting article, but it misses the pretty fundamental point that Sony hasn't forcibly disabled this functionality on anyone's PS3. Every user was perfectly entitled to reject the Firmware update and the machine would have carried on working as before with the "Install Other OS" feature working as... er, not advertised.

The thing Sony has changed - and is perfectly entitled to change at any time under its terms and conditions - is the EULA for accessing its *free* PSN online service. If you want to use that, you have to accept the latest Firmware upgrade (actually, this has always been a condition for using PSN, I think) which in this case disables the Other OS function.

Unfortunately, this leads to the scenario where you're forced to choose between Other OS and PSN, but at the end of the day, Other OS is a seldom used feature for most users and PSN was always subject to your acceptance of the EULA for the service and any future modifications to it. It's a free service, at the end of the day, and Sony are *legally* free to do what they want with it.

I do agree represents something of an unfair, no-win choice on consumers and I'm not saying I condone Sony's actions from a moral point of view, but legally I think they're on pretty safe ground. Ultimately, that's the price I suppose we have to pay for one notorious hacker's self-promoting glory trip. Blame him.

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WTF?

read you're own writing.

You've missed your own point.

"Sony hasn't forcibly disabled this functionality on anyone's PS3. "

"...you're forced to choose between Other OS and PSN..."

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Disagree

No it's not OK, it's called duress.

"Agree to my terms or something bad will happen to you" does not a legal contract make.

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Flame

BS

"Every user was perfectly entitled to reject the Firmware update and the machine would have carried on working as before with the "Install Other OS" feature working as... er, not advertised."

No, it wouldn't. You either lose "otherOS" (if you accept EULA) or you lose all on-line games (if you don't accept the EULA). Either way, you are being shafted by Sony. Again.

Tell me how this is "working as before" again? And how much Sony paid you to make plain lies to public forum?

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Megaphone

Another exaggeration on this update!?!

Sony NEVER guaranteed this facility - it was instead something useful that was added to the finished product through nothing more than a gesture of grace. It's just like expecting your sony Blu-Ray player or TV to come with another menu system to the built in system.

It amazes me how many updates that have been welcomed are conveniently forgotten about and instead trolls will down-vote these comments (and thus prove my point!).

I have no objections to this update. Afterall, if you purchased the PS3 for it to be used like a PC, then you were better off purchasing a laptop or desktop computer. The vast majority of people purchased the PS3 for what it was, a gaming console (with excellent media centre capabilities!).

Get a grip people!

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WTF?

Peaved, but is it a big deal?

I was quite peaved when I heard about this. I thought it was cool that I could load Linux on my PS3. Of course I never did, but heck , I might, one day?

Truth is it aint a real world issue for the most of us. Seems a lot of people are jumping up and down on ethical reasons even though its unlikely to effect 99.99% of Sony's PS3 users.

The guys that are using the PS3 for computation farms wont be effected as they just wont upgrade and probably havnt upgraded since their farms were set up.

I understand they did to prevent piracy. I cant blame them for that.

Guess we got to thank DVD John or whoever it was that broke the PS3 security. Of course he did for the good of mankind... what a great guy, ...... now Sony closed it up so no-one can play.

But its ok, freedom tards will continue to blame Sony. Most of which dont even have the console.

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Badgers

Sky PVR

It's made clear at purchase that all PVR functions are subscription based, only the basic receiver works without a sub, on FTA channels.

I have 100% sympathy on that, but KNOWING this is the basis on which it's sold I'll only buy a Freesat or other non-Sky PVR.

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Bronze badge

Are the reg attracting Sun readers?.....

Because those saying IANAL then following it up saying this story is trash and this won't stand up under fit for purpose.......read where the story came from......Pinsent Masons........big fecking company full of lawyers.

As for those saying you can ignore the update and keep using it, not if you want to play games. You arent allowed to connect to PSN if you don't update....and most games wont play(or save) without PSN.

As it has already been stated, Sony used the Linux OtherOS to make the device a computer and get a tax break, they have now turned around and said its a console while still telling the taxman its a computer.

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More anonymous shills?

Let's put the "but it was optional!" lie to bed, shall we? Sony removed functionality from the PS3. Either it was the ability to run other operating systems, or it was the ability to connect to the PSN, play your purchased media, download game updates and play future games that require firmware > 3.2.1. That they give you the choice of how they cripple your console is entirely irrelevant to the fact that they're doing it.

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Unhappy

Sony Not That Bothered

As a long time Playstation fan I bought the original PS3 at its peak price. I know I could have got it much cheaper if I had waited and flame me if you wish but I knew I was paying a premium at the time for new tech, I also loved the previous Playstation consoles and I had expected big name titles sooner so money didn’t really come into the decision, and hindsight is also wonderful thing. When I made the purchase I was very aware of the other OS feature and I can’t help but think that at some point Sony must have made me aware of it via their marketing. A few weeks ago I decided to contact Sony about their decision to disable the other OS feature via email just to see what they had to say. Now I'm not going to make out that Linux on the PS3 was ever going to be a suitable replacement for a primary computer but I did actually make genuine use of this feature and it came in handy a few times as a substitute system for tasks other than gaming. Furthermore I'm quite keen to keep it but I'm not left with much choice and this is my biggest gripe. I explained the dilemma I now faced in the email - to upgrade and lose the feature or not have access to PSN going forward etc. A member of "management" phoned me in the end and his only explanation was that they had looked at other possibilities but the decision was solely around security and this was the easiest option for them. He was pleasant enough but I mainly got the usual evasive “I understand your disappointment sir...now go away" talk. It’s a real shame they couldn’t have worked on a better compromise. The fact of the matter is companies such as Sony simply couldn’t care less.

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