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

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.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 12, 2008 4:31 PM

    Having read the full 6 page article prior to the edits, Delaware didn't seem like somebody who really valued his current job all that much. More so, I kind of got the idea that he was a little bitter that his findings as a tester went mostly ignored.

    Anyway, the article was a good read, and thank you Mr. Delaware for sacrificing your job and taking on a substantial legal burden to prove what many already knew. I'm not sure what you hoped to accomplish, but I hope you achieved it.

    • reply
      September 12, 2008 4:35 PM

      Yeah... Delaware probably violated all kinds of NDA's in the process. But... still, shit. Going after the guy like this just looks and sounds bad.

    • reply
      September 12, 2008 5:00 PM

      You just completely contradicted yourself in your opening sentence. The fact that he was upset about his finding being ignored clearly indicates that he did care about the job he was doing.

      The issue isn't whether or not this is common knowledge, it's what Microsoft knew, and when they knew it. If a company is knowingly shipping defective products to their customers, not only do their customers and shareholders have a right to know, but the company should be held accountable for those actions. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is actually part of consumer law in both Canada and the United States.

      What I don't know is why you feel the need to try and discredit this individual as some bitter nutcase for doing consumers (that includes you by the way) a valuable service.

      This is precisely why we need laws to protect whistle blowers.

      • reply
        September 12, 2008 5:41 PM

        Whistle Blowers are awesome and do deserve protection; when they blow the whistle! This guy was running after the train though. Where were his official statements when people were getting shot down for repairs after there console failed a little after one year? Or the people who were shot down for warranty repairs on the grounds of improper console placement in the likes?

        Microsoft was spot on when they commented by saying;

        “This topic has already been covered extensively in the media. This new story repeats old information, and contains rumors and innuendo from anonymous sources, attempting to create a new sensational angle, and is highly irresponsible.”

        • reply
          September 12, 2008 7:10 PM

          Isn't that about what Nixon said about Watergate?

        • reply
          September 13, 2008 6:17 AM

          I see your point about him being late to the party, and I do agree that he (or other MS people) should have come forward sooner. Having said that, I don't really see how this guy could be "cashing in" on the situation. Getting fired, probably blacklisted in the industry, and possibly getting sued is not my idea of cashing in.

          The Microsoft statement however, is very questionable. While the topic of defects and failures was speculated upon in the past, this article explains in detail the type and frequency of the defects and establishes a clear time-line of what MS knew and when. These issues were outright denied by MS at the time (and still are to some degree).

          It is for this reason that I fail to the sensational angle as it proves that MS was being deceptive all along; and using Microsoft's own words, they were (MS) "highly irresponsible".

    • reply
      September 12, 2008 5:13 PM

      Dude was a temp for a 3rd party firm - his job wasn't shit to begin with. The fact that people even considered him to be an "inside source" is laughable.

Hello, Meet Lola