PlayStation 3 firmware update 3.21

A press release from Sony concerning the removal of the “Other OS” option from the older PlayStation 3 models was released today via the official Sony blogs. The announcement has met with what can be described as a feverish uproar.

The press release states that the “PS3 Firmware 3.21 will be available this Thursday. It will disable the ‘Install Other OS’ feature that was available on the PS3 systems prior to the current slimmer models, launched in September 2009. This feature enabled users to install an operating system, but due to security concerns, we’re now removing this feature.”

Sony have previously said that the option, available on the fat version of the PS3, would continue to be supported, and would not be removed in future updates; it now it seems the company has U-Turned on that promise.

A number of research establishments bought PS3 machines as cheap supercomputer Linux boxes, networking them together for some serious parallel computing power, at the fraction of the cost of mainframe systems; this update is unlikely to affect them as the machines are not used for gaming, so won’t have the firmware installed.

There is some chatter that this may be an April 1st gag. However, if the press release is an April Fool’s joke, it’s certainly been an ill-conceived one, as the black-lash from Linux loving owners has been fearsome. Even those owners who have chosen not to use the option have expressed concern that a feature, used by Sony as a unique selling point when the console originally launched, is potentially being removed.

This wouldn’t be the first time Sony has wondered in to a PR nightmare. Some of our readers may remember a marketing campaign by the company to hire artists (or as some might describe, vandals), to paint images of PSP players on the sides of buildings. Another was to generate a fake blog of PSP fans who rapped about wanting the handheld for Christmas, later turning out to be fronted by a PR company. And who could forget Ken Kutaragi stating that the cost of the PlayStation 3 was “probably too cheap”.

Whether the 3.21 firmware is a real update or a badly thought out April Fool’s day joke, it doesn’t seem to have attracted quite the attention wanted.

What are your thoughts on the story? Let us know in the comments.

( Source: PlayStation EU Blog )

Marty Greenwell

Marty has been gaming since the heady years of the ZX-81 and still owns most of the gaming systems purchased since those days, including the Atari 2600, ZX Spectrum, SNES, Jaguar, Dreamcast and GameCube. Being a collection junkie (or more accurately, hoarder), he buys more games than he can possibly play, far too many of which are still sealed in their packaging. Marty favours RPGs and Driving games when it comes to genres, and is possibly a little bit too addicted to Disgaea. When not gaming he’s out frightening OAPs on his motorcycle, clad in black leather.

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