Xbox 360 Update Triggers Red Ring of Death Rumors

Hysteria can make elephants out of mosquitos, so when I say there's a new Xbox 360 "red ring of death" rumor running rampant, digest with caution and sangfroid, dear reader.

The panicked dispatch in question comes from a thread over at Microsoft's official Xbox forums titled "Todays [sic] Update Red Ringed my 360?" The message was posted on February 4th by a perplexed user and reads as follows:

So I just turned on my 360 tonight and it tells me there is a system update out. I download the update and the 360 shuts off...but it forgets to turn back on. Instead it decided it would be best to just pass away. Is this an update error or just a random coincidence? Anyone else having problems? I would hate to say that it's a Red Ring even though I'm sure it probably is. Just seems way too random that right after the update it died on me, it did not even start back up at all after the update, just started flashing.

The last Xbox 360 Dashboard update, revision 2.0.7363.0, was posted by Microsoft on February 3rd. According to Major Nelson, that update is mandatory and "addresses the issue that a few folks were having with audio and their HDMI connection."

So the timing lines up. But what about the symptoms?

Dozens on the Xbox thread in question claim they applied the update, then experienced the RROD, either immediately, or after playing certain games like of Call of Duty: World at War online.

Several users alternatively report receiving an "E74 error." One in particular says Microsoft support told him this constituted a hardware failure. He claims he "fixed" it by removing the HDMI cable, but that it returned as soon as he plugged the HDMI cable back in.

What's an E74 error? I'm not entirely sure — I've never experienced one — but it's very different from the RROD, though the end result appears to be similarly frightening. The latter involves three red lights and no video displayed, while the former involves just one and a video error message.

Per Microsoft's official support page, if the lower-right quadrant of the Ring of Light (RoL) flashes red and you received the following error message:

E74. System Error. Contact Xbox Customer Support

...you can follow the steps outlined here. If that doesn't solve the problem, you'll have to contact Xbox Customer Service.

The Red Ring of Death, or as Microsoft describes it, "Three of the lights on the Ring of Light on the front of your Xbox 360 console flash[ing] red," has only one troubleshooting step:

Turn off the console. Wait 10 seconds, and then turn on the console again to see whether the problem re-occurs.

If that doesn't fix it, you're out of luck, and if you're out of warranty, you'll have to submit a console-repair request online (and, presumably pay lots of money).

From around the blogosphere...

According to Boy Genius Report, the update may be "killing audio" on HDMI systems.

GameSpy pointed out that launch-day Xbox 360s are no longer under warranty and referenced the potential update bricking last Friday.

The rest of the media's in quiet mode, probably playing cautious for now.

Microsoft's response-to-all:

We are always taking steps to ensure our customers have the best experience on Xbox 360 and we have a detailed and comprehensive test and acceptance plan for our software updates to the console. If you are having any problems, please contact your local support so that we can assist you.

Has your Xbox 360 glitched or failed since the February 3rd update? Let us know below.

Matt Peckham's been through three Xbox 360s since November 2005, but hasn't had a failure in nearly two years. He's knocking on wood at twitter.com/game_on .

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