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Upcoming PS3 3.21 firmware update removes Other OS functionality, adds nothing

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March 28, 2010

Sony's upcoming firmware update removes the Other OS feature from the non-Slim PS3s which ...

Sony's upcoming firmware update removes the Other OS feature from the non-Slim PS3s which were available until Q4 2009

I'm still rocking a launch-era PS3, and it's always felt like an investment rather than a money sink. Since launch, Sony has added DivX/Xvid playback, improved PSP Remote Play functionality, the affordable PlayTV PVR, and in Australia, support for the ABC's catch-up TV service called iView. So it pains me to report on the upcoming firmware update, which removes the Other OS feature from the non-Slim PS3s which were available until Q4 2009 - adding nothing in return.

So why did Sony choose to take away functionality? The official PlayStation.blog cites "security concerns", which makes it pretty clear what they're talking about.

George Hotz is a name that should strike fear into the hearts of anyone designing security features for consumer electronics devices. At just 17 years old, Hotz was playing a role in the iPhone Dev Team, the group of hackers who unlocked the original iPhone. In July 2009, he had long since gone solo, and was the first to publicly release a jailbreak for the iPhone 3GS.

On December 26, 2009, Hotz announced his next target - the PlayStation 3. With the Xbox 360 and Wii both having fallen to hackers, and Hotz citing the PS3 as "a prime example of how security should be done", he set out on a "real" challenge.

Just a month later, Hotz released his PS3 exploit. No prizes for those of you who've already figured out that this exploit relies on the Other OS functionality that Sony is about to remove from all PS3s.

So, why don't the people who need Other OS just decline the firmware update? Because that will lock them out of the PlayStation Network, and you can bet any PS3 games released from April onwards will require the 3.21 firmware to boot.

This is seriously poor form from Sony.

While I had no immediate plans to use the Other OS functionality of my PS3, I'm still strongly against the concept of Sony removing functionality from something I own, rather than fixing the exploit itself.

The Xbox 360 lasted less than six months after launch before being opened up to piracy in March 2006. That didn't stop Microsoft from achieving an impressive software attach rate of 8.1 games per console by December 2008. Nintendo's Wii console and DS handheld are both plagued by piracy, yet they pushed Nintendo to the position of Japan's third-most valuable company by Q4 2007.

This leaves me with little sympathy for Sony, who had an incredible three years of an exploit-free platform, and now removes functionality from the old PS3 to prolong it - even though every PS3 they've sold since Q4 2009 is immune to the exploit, and just a tiny fraction of PS3 owners are able to (or could be bothered to) download and archive disc images of over 10GB in order to save themselves $60 at retail.

Do you use the Other OS functionality of your PS3? Are you angry or indifferent about Sony's upcoming removal of the Other OS functionality? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author
Tim Hanlon Tim originally came to Gizmag as a developer, much to the dismay of anyone who had to maintain, build on, or rewrite his code. After wearing every other hat that didn't have a head for it, he became CEO in 2010. Outside Gizmag, he trains Muay Thai and plays too much Destiny.   All articles by Tim Hanlon
12 Comments

It is not unusual for Sony to forget that its customers are money providers. Along its history, if you bother to investigate, the Sony philosophy has always been very rude against its buyers. Total incompatibility with anything standard, strange connectors, total incompatibility between its own service centers (you cannot repair a Sony TV bought in Latin America, for example, in the US or vice versa), and so on. That's why, precisely, I do not own anything Sony at all. And I am happy.

klavaza
29th March, 2010 @ 11:13 am PDT

Not only that Klavaza, but Sony believes that they can abuse their customers as well! Remember when Sony installed Root Kits on people's computers without the user's knowledge? Yep, they did this through music CDs. This means that Sony violated the patent agreement held by Philips and used the audio CD logo on their audio CDs even though they weren't! The whole point of a an audio CD is that it does not have computer data on the disk, only audio data!

Then there is the thousands of dollars people spent trying to figure out why their computers were getting hosed! I personally had to repair about a dozen machines because of the Sony Root Kit! So yeah..I don't buy Sony products either. They just cannot be trusted to do what is right for the customer.

Ed
29th March, 2010 @ 04:54 pm PDT

I have Linux installed, and can't say I've used it over the last year, now that I have a netbook hooked to my television... but it still ticks me off that Sony is removing a feature for which I bought it in the first place. How about giving a voucher for a free game or something?

..or even better, patch my PS3, so the exploit doesn't work? Maybe it's available, but Sony hasn't let me know about it, even though they have my email and address when I registered my product.

This still only slightly diminishes the greatness that is PS3: awesome Blu-Ray player, (soon to be 3-D capable), and free "live" content. I loathe the XBOX business model, where I have to pay for the "Gold" experience...it's only "Gold" to M$'s pockets!

matthew.rings
29th March, 2010 @ 05:29 pm PDT

Why don't we all just track down George Hotz and tar & feather him? I'm so sick of these arrogant, proud uber-nerds that ruin the experience for all of us (even though there is **some** benefit to exposing vulnerabilities in some way). The downside is that it is done in a hackorz "in your face" kind of way, that just scares the corporate types into doing stuff like Sony is doing: turning off functionality.

matthew.rings
29th March, 2010 @ 05:31 pm PDT

"It only does everything*."

*Except run PlayStation 2 games, other operating systems, or anything else we had it do initially but later decided to make it incapable of doing.

Facebook User
29th March, 2010 @ 07:10 pm PDT

Dear Sony,

With much respect, please leave "Other OS" functionality for loading LINUX compiled and linked for Cell processors. The US Air Force requires this capability to operate a large PS3 cluster in Rome, NY, used to develop real-time synthetic aperture radar 3D image recognition for space and air defense.

Disabling this capability will likely result in a delay in delivering software required to manage Japan's own space defense network.

"Other OS" has allowed researchers and contractors easy access to Cell processors for developing next generation systems for target recognition, signal analysis and cryptography, molecular modeling and chemical dynamics simulations, magneto-hydrodynamics, fluid dynamics, complex network simulation, structural analysis, and artificial intelligence.

Thank you for reconsidering this announced firmware change.

Bob Lee
29th March, 2010 @ 09:50 pm PDT

This is not a knock against the PS3 which is a seriously amazing piece of hardware. But. Sony as a company is rapidly falling from King of electronics to desperate also-ran. As a professional media company owner I can state emphatically that I no longer visit the Sony booth at NAB. I don't even price Sony cameras. In the world of AV, I am done with that company. They build-in limitations, withhold features, tie themselves to proprietary formats all in the hopes of keeping you "in family" and making integration into a multimedia work flow all but impossible. Now all video electronic companies are guilty of this to some extent but on Sony is by far the most in your face and draconian. I left Sony after Digibeta (a format I happened to love) and never looked back. Television is a better and kinder industry without Sony and I will not miss them when they are gone. And they will be gone.

Vexxarr
30th March, 2010 @ 11:59 am PDT

Sony = FAIL in so many regards and hardware formats... remember the flash-stick memory? And how their hardware products only had slots for that, and not the non-proprietary flash cards and other memory cards.

Sony = GREED. Besides the PS3, I will NOT own Sony products. XBOX360 forced my PS3 hand when the HD-DVD format died an agonizing death, leaving Blu-Ray the victor...

matthew.rings
31st March, 2010 @ 08:57 pm PDT

"Except run PlayStation 2 games, other operating systems, or anything else we had it do initially but later decided to make it incapable of doing."

The PS3 does those things, you only had to pay the price for it, the first systems which retail price was around 700 had backwards compatibility; but people didn't buy the product becasue was "SO EXPENSIVE" so that is why SONY came up with the other versions; in order to more people can affor it.

But this is not SONY's fault, i always say "THE GOOD THING, COST"; I personally have a PS3 with backward compatibility, and i can say that at least all my PS2 games run on my PS3.

About the 3.21 update; i really don't care, Download 10GB per game...never man, that is crazy;, is jsut to much and even with a 500GB drive that will not last much. So i don't think is a good idea to "hack" the PS3 anyway, and i don't see why i will use my PS3 as a normal computer in others words i don't see a use for the "Install Other OS"

Thanks for Read, and remember this is JUST my opinion.

Facebook User
1st April, 2010 @ 07:37 am PDT

There are over 1000 members of a Facebook group who have been screwed by Sony with a defect in their LCD televisions. I am have two of these defective Sony TVs, and I\'ve had past problems with their computers, stereos, and other equipment, but mostly with their service. I refuse to buy a PS3 as I have now boycotted all Sony products. I will replace all Sony products with other brands as time and money permit.

Facebook User
3rd April, 2010 @ 02:03 pm PDT

well for the time being i have found something to bypass this i re posted it on my site here's the link

http://www.bonznumber1.com/gaming-consoles/ps3/update-ps3-to-3-21-and-keep-otheros/

follow this and you'll be good to go at least until Sony requires at least 3.21 for there games

Bill Wales
5th April, 2010 @ 12:29 am PDT

Sony is just showing that the customer doesn't matter to most businesses. The first clue should be the prices they charge for machines that cost them around $50 bucks to build, and that is with purchasing components, if they made 100% of the parts it would probably cost $30 or less for them. But they have to charge big bucks to make up for the money they paid the developers. Of course if they really wanted the PS3 to be in more people's hands when they removed the Backwards compatibility they would have lowered the price without changing anything. After all, they must have already paid for the development that made it cost more, why remove features when it gets a little older and the price is going down.

Of all the companies that I have dealt with that have reduced prices on products, Sony is the only one that removes features when they lower the price. As far as removing functionality in units already in "the field" they seem to have taken a page out of Apple's playbook on that. Apple routinely updates their firmware and will remove functionality of devices, even if you paid for that function. They don't care, because if you want to use their device, then they feel that THEY can control them. This is why I don't buy from companies that think the outlandish price we pay for their products is simply a usage fee and they can decide how much usage we can have with them. Sony has simply added itself to the growing list of companies I won't support.

rpjacks
16th April, 2010 @ 08:49 am PDT
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