Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 12:47 UK

Sony to disable PlayStation 3 operating system feature

Playstation 3 (Sony)
The update will only affect older machines

Sony has said it will disable a feature on its PlayStation 3 (PS3) console in a move some consider to be a pre-emptive strike to guard against games piracy.

The firm said that an update to be released on 1 April will prevent people using a function that allows them to install alternative operating systems.

Sony said it had made the decision to address "security concerns".

The move comes after a US hacker released the first code that he claimed bypassed the PS3's security systems.

The exploit, released by hacker Geohot, used a machine running a variant of the Linux operating system.

One gamer, commenting on Sony's blog post, said: "The funny thing about this is that users that legally enjoy this feature will suffer its loss and the hackers will find some way to have the update plus the feature."

Another said: "This is so stupid. I spent $500 on this system to be able to use whatever features it came with. Preventing hackers is one thing, but taking away a feature that I paid for is another."

Geohot, also known as George Hotz, gained notoriety for unlocking Apple's iPhone as a teenager.

He has said that he will work on a method to bypass the new update and allow gamers to retain the ability to install other operating systems.

"This is about more than this feature right now," he wrote in his blog. "It's about whether these companies have the right to take away advertised features from a product you purchased.

"Imagine if an exploit were found in Safari on the iPhone, but instead of fixing it, Apple decides to pull web browsing altogether."

Playback problem

The "Other OS" feature on the PS3 allows gamers to install a version of Linux on their machines. The feature has been used by researchers who want to tap into the PS3's processing power.

The latest update will be rolled out on 1 April, making many gamers think it was an April Fool's joke.

Sony has said the update is optional, but those people that do not install it will no longer have access to features, such as its online games network and the ability to playback certain games or Blu-ray DVDs that require the most up-to-date firmware.

A Sony spokesperson said that gamers would have to "accept" the update before it begins to install.

The update only affects older machines. The newer "slim" models of the PS3 do not have the "other OS" feature.

Sony will not say how many people it believes will be affected by the update, although the figure is thought to be relatively small.

The firm advised people using a machine running another operating system who want to install the update to back up any data on their machine.

The firm has sold more than 33 million consoles worldwide.

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