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Software May Have Caused Xbox LIVE Problems

Raymond McConville
News Analysis
Raymond McConville
1/2/2008
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It may not have been the gaming itself that caused Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s online multiplayer service, Xbox LIVE, to have a fit of problems over the holidays. At least one expert says the problem may have been related to new devices and software updates from Microsoft's servers.

"Every time you log on as a first-time user you're getting software updates," says John Alden, Vice President of Business Development for GameRail , a private network service that enhances the performance of online multiplayer games.

Alden says Microsoft's record-breaking game, Halo 3, also led to some similar service outages a few months ago. "Just like with any software you buy, the first thing it does is run home to mama for an update. The initial onslaught of Halo 3 players saturated the network with updates, which are fairly large files." While the traffic of the actual game playing can add up, Alden says it's the software updates that have really taxed the Xbox LIVE network.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has been working lately to get a lot of its gaming traffic associated with Xbox LIVE off of the Internet and onto regional CDN servers to prevent outages and to provide a higher quality of connection. It just awarded a big contract to Limelight Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: LLNW) to develop those bigger pipes capable of handling an onslaught of gaming activity.

Limelight and Microsoft did not return calls seeking comment.

"The entire LIVE team has been working day and night to ensure that you can have a great LIVE experience," wrote Larry Hryb, director of programming for Xbox LIVE, on his blog last week. "While we're not done yet, I wanted to let you know that things are getting better each hour and that no one on the team is going anywhere until the job is done."

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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