Microsoft XBox 360 vs. Sony Playstation 3 - Game over man!

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Microsoft XBox 360 vs. Sony Playstation 3 - Game over man!

With the impending launch of Microsoft's XBox 360, inevitably comparisons will be made to Sony's Playstation 3 due out next year. But the battle has already been won by Microsoft without firing a single shot - without a single needle from the Needler gun (Halo) pricking Sony and without a single Covenant Energy Blade (Halo) slicing and dicing up the Sony competition. No, the reason is not because XBox 360 is launching this year before the "all important" holiday season, although that certainly gives Microsoft a huge advantage.

"So you're saying the XBox 360 has better graphics than the Playstation 3, right?"

Nope, I ain't saying that either.

"Ok, so you're saying the processing horsepower on the XBox 360 is better than the Playstation?"

Nope, try again.

"Better features? more multimedia capabilities? XBox Live online play? What? I give up!"

No, no, and no. The reason why Microsoft's XBox will win the gaming consoles wars, at least this major battle, is because of Sony's stupid move in putting spyware on thousands of PCs

Sony's copy-protection experiment has failed miserably and pissed off a lot of people. Sony employed a piece of software from First4Internet to protect music on CDs, but the technology, hid itself on computers by using root-kit technology and even worse it opened a remote access connection that called out to Sony which not only violates the user's right to privacyy, but it also exposed users to worms that take advantage of the stealth technology. In fact, Breplibot.c is one virus already that attempts to hide itself using the Sony root kit.

When executed, Breplibot.c copies itself to the Windows system directory as $SYS$DRV.exe, however files with the string $sys$ may be hidden because of the presence of Sony DRM software already on the system.

Breplibot.c also creates the following registry entries:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE]

WkbpsevaXImgvkwkbpXSmj`kswXGqvvajpRavwmkjXVqj"="$SYS$DRV.EXE

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE]

WkbpsevaXImgvkwkbpXSmj`kswXGqvvajpRavwmkjXVqj"="$SYS$DRV.EXE

WkbpsevaXImgvkwkbpXSmj`kswXGqvvajpRavwmkjXVqj corresponds to Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

The backdoor component of Breplibot.c then tries to connect to IRC servers and await further instructions. Gee, thanks a lot Sony! Who knew a $15 music CD could cause cost people thousands of dollars in potential loss due to identity theft, access to financial records on the PC, etc.

Sony has agreed not to put root-kit technology on future music CDs to protect its copyrights but the damage has been done, and I don't think this will just hurt Sony's music business -- it could in fact hurt their Playstation 3 sales. In fact, most people don't care who the distributor of the music CD is. I know I don't care. If I like a music artist, I'll buy it no matter who the distributor or the label is. You don't have much of a choice - it's not like you can choose to buy a Britney Spears CD from Sony or a Britney Spears CD from Virgin Records. Only one distributor carries the label. But given the choice between giving $500 to Microsoft for their XBox 360 or giving my money to Sony for their upcoming Playstation 3 I'm thinking a lot of people will now choose Microsoft. Sony really shot themselves in the foot with this one.

Dan Kaminsky, a security advocate and often speaker at Black Hat has done some interesting research into figuring out how many people are infected with the Sony root kit using Domain Name Service servers. Kaminsky writes on his web page: Sony has a root kit; all root kits phone home; phoning home requires a DNS query; DNS queries are cached; Caches are externally testable.

From this premise Kaminsky was able to query roughly 3 million Domain Name Service servers to find traces or signatures of Sony root kits calling from their PCs and laptops back home to Sony host servers. He found roughly 568,200 DNS servers that have signatures of the Sony root kit calling home. He states that from this figure, he can't conclusively determine how many hosts that translates into and that only Sony and First4Internet know that number.

Nevertheless, Kaminisky then translated his data into a satellite image of Earth, as shown here (click for full-size). Scary stuff! (check out his website for the color legend)




Ironically, unlike Microsoft, Sony has been relatively immune from the "I hate the man", "fight the power" crowd - that is to say techies and geeks that hate large companies and would prefer to support small "underdog" companies, open-source solutions, etc. Sony, a huge behemoth of a company has now lost that 'immunity edge' and a lot of credibility to boot with teenagers who can make or break a gaming console's success.

While everyone still likes to "dig" Microsoft and say how much they hate Microsoft, hardcore gamers will still buy the XBox 360 regardless of who owns it, because of its cool technology. Microsoft, has already moved beyond being "uncool" to being "totally cool" in the eyes of teenage gamers and even adult gamers like myself. Ok, maybe just the XBox 360 console anyway, since there is still plenty of reasons to hate Microsoft.

The irreparable damage to Sony has been done. I have a Sony VAIO Media Center 2005 PC in my house that I bought last year. This will be the last Sony product I ever buy. Sorry Sony, but you really screwed yourself this time.
Update:
It's been awhile since I predicted Microsoft would best the Sony PS3. While Microsoft is still ahead of Sony in total consoles sold, the demise of the HD DVD format has changed the equation quite a bit, especially since the winning Blu-ray disc format comes included with every Sony PS3 console. I've been in the market to buy a Blu-ray player myself this Christmas and the Sony PS3 makes a lot of sense since you get a Blu-ray player AND a gaming console all-in-one making it the best value / bang-for-the-buck. I may have been a little harsh in my criticisms of Sony in my original post. They seem to have gotten their act together.

I'm now thinking about buying a Sony PS3 bundle. There is an awesome special on Amazon.com titled 'Buy a Sony PlayStation 3, a Sony PS3 Game, a Sony Blu-ray Movie and a Sony Blu-ray Remote and Save $50'. $50 off is a pretty sweet deal. Go check out the deal here.

Other PS3 systems available online include:
PlayStation 3 80GB
PlayStation 3 160 GB Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Pack
PlayStation 3 Metal Gear Solid 4 Gray Kojima Bundle

If you still want a Microsoft XBox 360, Amazon also has a few holiday specials, including these:
Xbox 360 Pro Holiday Bundle 2008 Includes 60GB Hard Drive
Xbox 360 Elite Holiday Bundle 2008 (Includes 120 GB Hard Drive)
Xbox 360 Arcade Holiday Bundle


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