I've got a mate who is the classic non-Microsoft user. He's into computers, but has Macs at home for general use (and always has) and for gaming has always been a Nintendo boy. He's always been suspicious of MS kit and makes (fair) comments that we would all understand: their OSes are unwieldy and unreliable, and their gaming is repetitive and often teenage. Mind you, he came down to see me in the summer and really loved Forza. In fact, in one weekend he played it more than I have since. So at Christmas his girlfriend bought him a 360. He was pretty chuffed. But I played with him tonight for the first time in a couple of weeks, and he's in dispair. He said he wants to chuck his 360 out the window. (And as it happens, right after he said that, our COD4 game fell over and kicked everybody out. I know how he felt.) I've tried explaining that it does work, and has for a long time - but how many people like him must have got a 360 at Christmas, and have had their worst impressions of Microsoft confirmed? It's not just online gaming either. He's had problems in the single-player mode of COD4. He thinks the dashboard is a mess and very difficult to navigate (after the last update I agree). He asks why text is so tiny (he's "only" got a 26" 4:3 Sony) and I explain that developers have probably made games for 32"+ widescreens. His headset on his new Elite is faulty (as is mine) - simple hardware failure on a 3-week-old device. The list goes on. The trouble is, from his Apple- and Nintendo-centric view of the world, he has a very good point. The kit he's used to using, as he said to me tonight, "just works". The games just play. It's quite likely that Microsoft are going to blow everything they've achieved with the 360 in the next 12 to 18 months. It wouldn't surprise me if Sony win this generation of gaming (in terms of coming second to Nintendo). They don't deserve to, and I don't personally give a monkeys if they do, but it could well happen, particularly now the Blu-ray drive in it makes sense. Microsoft probably like to see the 360 as an extension of their Windows brand, even if it's not actually branded as such. (To Microsoft, extending Windows is everything). It extends (in more ways than one) their influence to the living room. The trouble is, it also seems to extend their image of poor industrial design, poor software design, poor UI design, poor customer service... I can live with my 360. The problems Live has right now are appalling and if it goes on much longer I will be seriously unhappy, but I expect, like most of us, my attitude is "that's how it is". Actually, that's not good enough. That's how Microsoft is. We should expect better. Actually, it's very ironic - but perfectly suitable - that my mate wants to chuck his 360 out the Window right now. At least in so doing he'd be "on message". Microsoft, you're rich enough to be your own worst enemy; just don't become everyone else's as well. Discuss.