Xbox 360 warranty extended to a year

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Microsoft said Friday it is extending the 90-day warranty on the Xbox 360 console to a full year from the date of purchase for owners of the system in North America. The warranty applies not only for new purchasers, but also those who are still within their first year of ownership.

 "Effective today, the one-year warranty is now the standard for the Xbox 360 console," Microsoft explained in a statement. "Customers who experience hardware issues with their Xbox 360 within one year of purchase can have their consoles repaired at no cost. Moreover, the new warranty policy is retroactive, so consumers who may have already paid for an out-of-warranty Xbox 360 repair within one year of purchase will be eligible for reimbursement of their console repair charges."

 Microsoft noted that customers who have paid for out-of-warranty repairs can expect to receive reimbursement checks "in approximately 10 weeks." This will be done automatically, the company said, so there's no need to contact support/customer service.

 "Customer satisfaction is a central focus and priority for the Xbox 360 system," said Jeff Bell, corporate vp of Global Marketing for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. "In addition to jaw-dropping features such as high-definition graphics, an amazing catalog of over 160 games, and social online and entertainment experiences on Xbox Live, the Xbox 360 system now offers this extended warranty upgrade. It is truly the industry's most compelling home entertainment offering."

 Microsoft explained that the warranty change was made in the U.S. and Canada "to be consistent with the standard one-year Xbox 360 warranty that is available throughout most of the world."

 The company labeled it "a move to benefit customers" but some might construe that as "a move to avoid a major class action lawsuit." Microsoft admitted that the failure rate among launch units was higher than acceptable, but it would appear from the numerous complaints on Xbox.com message boards and other popular gaming forums that the problem went beyond just the launch batch of consoles. The notorious "three red lights of death" has is often cited.

PlayStation 3 and the Wii  come with standard one-year warranties.

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