Weep like it’s 2010 all over again. Sony has once again decided to push a firmware update out to all Internet connected Playstation 3s to remove functionality from the system. The new v4.3 firmware issued October 23rd removes the Life with Playstation application from the game console.
Life with Playstation included two very interesting features. The Live channel gave users access to world news reports via a very fancy 3D globe. The Folding@home channel allowed PS3 owners to contribute to Stanford University Medical Center’s distributed computing service of the same name.
With Folding@home computers all over the world aid medical research by processing a bit of the massive data used in simulating protein folding and contribute results back to the labs to aid in studying Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and many cancers. It’s like a botnet of the best kind! It also would have been the best use of an old PS3 as the Playstation 4 is expected within the next couple years.
This move by Sony to remove a core feature of owner’s hardware mirrors a similar 'upgrade’ back in March of 2010 when v3.21 of the PS3’s firmware removed the ability to install Linux on the machine. Sony’s decision would spark the technical community to create the PS3’s first jailbreak allowing users to install software on the machine not signed by Sony. Prior to this event, the PlayStation 3 was considered ‘unhackable’.
Owners who elect not to install the PS3’s latest update will be barred from accessing the Playstation Store, online gaming, software updates, and, in some cases, lose the ability to run already purchased digital titles due to DRM.
To find out more about Folding@home or join the program yourself visit folding.stanford.edu.