As the launch date of the MS XBox approaches, I want to start discussing regarding the hackability of this box. We have more information about the XBox than we have historically had about any other hackable Internet appliance on the market, and I want to collect some of this information here.
The XBox will be sold at $299.99 per unit. A single unit costs Microsoft $425 to manufacture. MS eats a loss of $125 per unit. Compared to I-Openers and GCT's, this is par for the course. The difference is that (unlike other Internet appliances) there is no contract involved whatsoever. Microsoft is *hoping* that you will purchase XBox games, and they will get indirectly through the licensing fees developers pay per copy of each game. This is not required legally. Once you purchase an XBox, your transaction with MS is complete and you have no remaining oblications left. If you don't buy any games (and instead hack your XBox) there is absolutely nothing that MS can do about it, except whine. (And eat the loss) Not that you will bankrupt them, but it's always good to have Billy subsidize your hacking activities.
Now for the architecture of the XBox: A recent Wired article showed a full-page picture of what was supposedly the final version of the XBox innards. I will see if I can scan it. The innards have a GeForce3 variant (onboard), onboard sound, P3-733, 64 Megs of memory, 10 gigs of HD space, 4 USB ports called "controller ports" (haha) and a huge heatsink. The USB ports mounted on the case look different than the standard USB form factor to make it inconvenient to plug in standard USB peripherals. This is Microsoft's "embrace and extend" at work. Chances are that buying some standard USB ports and soldering them at the connection points on the motherboard will take care of this "little" problem.
Most everything appears to be surface mounted, so upgrade potential on this box is close to zero. I believe that hackability potential will shine through software hacks. The first steps to gaining control of the box would be to remove or replace the HD, and somehow plug a USB keyboard into one of the USB ports. (It is unlikely that PS2 ports will be made available) The rest should be easy.
This constitutes some initial impressions and informations about the XBos. I hope to see this thread extend in scope, and ultimately, to get its own forum. Thank you.