Joystiq has obtained documentation which the site claims have been confirmed by two of its sources that “USB Mass Storage Device Support on Xbox 360″ will soon be a reality. The document which was authored by a senior software development engineer at Microsoft states that “increased market penetration of high-capacity, high throughput USB mass storage devices, a 2010 Xbox 360 system update” will allow consumers to save and load game data from USB devices. Said update will come in 2010.
Xbox 360 owners will be able to download Xbox Live Arcade games, Xbox Live Indie games, Games on Demand, DLC and Title Updates to the storage device once the update occurs. “USB storage devices may, however, have far greater memory capacity than MUs (at the date of writing, the largest MU is 512 MB), and may therefore support previously infeasible operations-such as installation of a full disc-based title. This means you’ll also be able to store disc-based games to the USB device; however, it will require the disc to be in the tray for authentication, identical to the current functionality.
The USB must be 1GB and the system must do a compatibility check. “The system partition occupies 512 MB of space, and by default the consumer partition occupies the remainder of the device capacity, or 16 GB, whichever is smaller.” When a blank USB storage device is inserted consumers are offered two choices: ‘Configure now’ or ‘Customize’.” The “configure now” option will use “the entire device capacity, up to the maximum of 512 MB plus 16 GB” meaning it doesn’t matter the overall size of the device you’re using, the Xbox will only enable 16 GB of usable, non system storage. The “Customize” option will allow you to “preserve some pre-existing, non-console data on the device” such as music.
It should be clear by now that Microsoft is planning to give the Xbox 360 a function that came standard with the PS3 since in launched back in 2006, by adding USB storage support which removes the requirement for Memory Unit on Xbox 360 Arcade units. 16GB however is still is still 4GB shy of the 20GB hard drive that shipped with the original 2005 Xbox Pro and a fraction the size of the currently shipping 120 GB hard drive.