Microsoft Fires Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death Whistleblower, May File Lawsuit

By Blake Ellison, Sep 12, 2008 4:13pm PDT Microsoft has faced a great deal of criticism over the widely reported instability of its Xbox 360 console. Now, it's fighting back by firing an employee who contributed to an expose' uncovering the system's predilection for the "Red Ring of Death"--an error code on the Xbox 360's LED-lighted power button signaling that the console is inoperable.

Robert Delaware, a temporary worker for a game testing firm contracted to Microsoft, was fired by his supervising manager at Microsoft for talking without permission to VentureBeat, who broke the story on the system's problems.

Delaware was one of several who spoke to article author Dean Takahashi, but he was the only one not to do so on the condition of anonymity. "He fully knew the risk he was taking, based on multiple conversations I had with him about using his name," claimed Takahashi in a follow-up story today. At present, all references to Robert Delaware have been removed from the original VentureBeat story.

"Clearly, from a legalistic point of view, Delaware broke company policy and it is the company's right to fire him," wrote Takahashi in today's follow-up. In fact, Delaware "expects to face civil charges from his former employer ... and Microsoft as well."

"I don't regret it," said Delaware to Takahashi in a phone call after being fired. "I'll fight it. If they want to come after me, bring it on."

Takahashi, a known insider on the topic of Microsoft hardware, is disappointed by the firing. "When I was thinking about making a difference with our story, this isn't what I had in mind," he wrote.

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21 Threads* | 87 Comments

  • big whoop. No one cares about someone telling the truth. If this guy would of said something earlier, then you 360 lovers wouldnt of shelled out your allowance you saved up for a year for a broke ass game system. But instead now after the fact you blew all your money you wanna shoot off at the mouth about someone saving people tons of money . I mean no one could of said anything at all and everyone would of bitched that someone would of known about this issue. Instead technical support would just say oh its just a simple problem we can fix. give the guy some credit for having balls, unless you like giving billion dollar companies your money for broke shit nthat they have known about. well according to deleware. And if you do get RROD dont go out and buy a new one. DUHHHH!

  • While this is a good story and appears to have a great deal of research behind it, I don't know if it justifies calling the source a whistleblower. This is the wording in a California law covering whistleblowers (specifically state employees):

    "The Legislature finds and declares that state employees should be free to report waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violation of law, or threat to public health without fear of retribution."

    Discussing the backstory of the 360 is intersting, but it didn't inform the public about a new problem. Frankly, Delawares job was to find bugs. In the article, he talked about finding bugs. Bug fix order at any company is based on the chance an ender user will get hit by the bug and the severity of the result. Games, for all platforms, ship with Updates with games. If anything, he is simply arguing for more testing of the updates before release. While interesting points, neither point at anything worthy of the whistleblower lable.

    If you aren't authorised to talk to the press at a big company, doing so is a fast way to lose your job. Period. Legal protection may exists if you are alerting the public about a major issue, but even then, legal protection doesn't protect you from getting put on boring projects/slowly pushed out. It also makes you a wildcard for potential future employers. People have to be really careful about this stuff on both sides.

  • Sure the RROD is a problem and I am on my 3rd 360 but what did this guy expect? I like his comment "BRING IT ON!" which I'm sure MS will and he'll regret his descision I'll bet. If he thinks the world will back him like he is some kind of hero he's mistaken. If this was a vaccine that was defective and killing thousands of babies then I'd see his point. MS has confessed and extended the warranty at the cost of 1.5 billion. They made a mistake and it's costing them money and good will. Theres not really much more that needs to be done PROVIDED THEY HAVE FIXED THE PROBLEM. I'm still not certain they have.