I Got Thrown In Microsoft 'Jail' For Taking Pictures Of Nothing

There are a lot of secrets that come with a brand new console. Last night at the Forza 5 event Microsoft pulled me aside for taking a picture of a cabinet and a laptop. And, interestingly, I wasn't even violating any rules because, conveniently, no photo rules were stated. Still, I'll never have those 10 minutes back.

Here's what happened: I was at the Forza 5 event in downtown LA, having just come from the quick briefing on the game back at E3. During the briefing, we were told no video, but photos were fine. Ok, great. I took photos, listened to the pitch, had a free gin and tonic. So far so good.

Then, I drive over to the 'event' — essentially a party where you could actually play the game, eat fancy hot dogs off of trays carried by aspiring actresses, guzzle free booze, and watch hundreds of other freeloaders do the same. This is a pretty normal thing for these sorts of big releases.

At the event, there were people shooting video and taking pictures william-nilliam. No photo policy was stated, expressed, posted, or anything. I just want all that to be clear so the rest of this makes sense.

So, after being at the party a while, getting my chance to try the game, chasing down the girl with the fancy hot dog tray and drinking more gin, I began to wonder about what they were running all these demos on, since I didn't see a single Xbox One. All the wires just led under tables and into cabinets.

So, they were hiding the actual hardware, which I figured was probably some dev Xbox One units or something. And I'm curious. I wondered what these units looked like, so I decided to peek behind one of the cabinets. It was dark, so I took a couple quick photos with my flash so I could see.

What I saw was profoundly underwhelming. Just a laptop and a bunch of wires. I was just about to forget about the pictures entirely and find the guy who walked by with the raw tuna somethings when a massive goon packed into a fancy suit approached me.

"You need to come with me, sir," he said.

Those are never good words to hear. Unless they're followed by "Your dog just gave birth to puppies that crap $20s!"

The goon led me to a small enclosure in the corner; a little room made up of dividers and filled with travel cases and a few people on laptops. But you could tell by the haunted looks of the people there that this was serious business. Microsoft jail.

The MicroSlammer. Hotjail. You get the idea. Microsoft jail changes you, I can tell you that. The standing, the (relatively short) waiting, the cold metal of the travel case against your back, the mild sense of trouble — those are the things that haunt a man in his dreams years later.

As the guard stood outside to keep me from freaking out and making a run for it, a couple of Microsoft PR folks came in, large forced smiles on their faces. They just wanted to talk to me.

I figured it was about the photos, so I showed them my camera and told them if it was a problem, I could delete them, because, really, I don't care. It's just a laptop and a bunch of wires.

They made a big point of telling me that they were not telling me to delete the photos. That's because they really couldn't, since they never said what could or couldn't be photos. But they also didn't want me to leave that little room with those photos.

It was weird. They were clearly unhappy and concerned, even though they insisted that laptop was just controlling a looping video. Which it certainly may have been doing, which makes it even weirder that they were so upset at the photos.

Not being able to take their intense stares and restrained desire to yank the camera out of my hands any longer, I just deleted the photos. They then set me free.

I went back out into the party, bemused and found fellow auto-journo Blake Z. Rong, and told him what happened. As I was talking to him, I found I had one photo undeleted on my camera, so I showed him the big nothing all the fuss was about.

And then one of the PR reps appeared out of nowhere, hurt and confused at my betrayal. I assured him I really, really didn't care about their super-secret laptop, and probably wasn't going to reverse-engineer an XBox One from it, but this time I just gave them my camera and let them delete the photo.

So here's a drawing of the photo instead, with absolutely everything the photo had: a laptop, some wires, and the inside of a cabinet. Have at it, reverse-engineers. It's all you need. Maybe it's a development system in laptop form, maybe it's a laptop emulating the hardware, maybe it's really just playing looping video. Who knows?

All I know is that this is a wildly important image that Microsoft must not allow to see the light of day.

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    Be interesting to think,

    The OS on the Xbox One is Windows and Xbox running under a HyperV (3 Operating Systems)

    Which would mean its very possible the Xbox section of the HyperV could possible run on any hardware certified to run the Xbox section.

    Possible these notebooks were just high powered units running, did you happen to catch a brand?

    Last edited 13/06/13 4:55 pm

    Love your drawing! It's like one of those artist drawings the jury makes in court
    of a suspect when he/she goes on trial :)

    What a weird experience by the way. Funny enough I saw a documentary on this exact
    sort of thing once concerning shoplifting. The docu ppl went into retail stores and pretended to
    act "suspicious" if you know what I mean. Sure enough they got approached by security and led to small rooms and held there for an hour before managers arrived to question them.

    Apparently it is illegal for establishments to do this without having proper evidence of
    a "crime" being committed. You cannot be forced into a room for no reason, not even taking photographs. And they are not allowed to take your equipment or force you to delete anything from it at all. (as you explained they told you a similar story)
    You can if you wanted to sue the shit out of them for interfering with your civil rights.

    All they should have done really is send someone over to say
    "Could you please stop taking pictures from the inside sir" and be on their way.

    Is the Streisand effect about to come into play?

    its been floating around that at the E3 xbone reveal, everything was running on pc, and win7 pcs at that, not the actual consoles.

    If the xbone can run perfectly fine on a pc, with just a software install, then microsoft just spent millions of dollars on hardware, that will be sold at a loss, that does everything a pc can do. Stock prices would plunge immediatly.

    Imagine a hacker getting hold of that laptop, and uploading the xbone code to the net, so anyone with a pc can just download and play the xbone games on, it would be the end of microsoft consoles completly.

    its been a bad time lately for microsoft, and i cant say it will get any better in the near future

    It's that personal touch you can only get with hired goons.

    Just be grateful they didn't decide to pull on a rubber glove and go prospecting.

      So the laptops also had the details of Microsoft's proposal to remove the dental plan for their employees.

      It all makes sense now.

    After deleting the images for them you should have swapped the memory cards in the camera (so you could keep taking photos), then run the card through Recurva (or something), recover the deleted photos.
    Then upload them to the interwebs for the world to scrutinise. . . to see what really is going on in that 'empty box with wires'.

    "I was kinda drunk and stuck my nose into somewhere that I obviously wasn't meant to. People were unhappy with me.. they are the bad people."

    Seriously, what would you expect hired security to do?

      Act professionally and not like hired thugs.

      But... microsoft.

        Put yourself in the shoes of the security guy. You see some guy sneaking behind the displays taking photos of 'electronic stuff'. Saying “You need to come with me, sir,” sounds exactly like what he should have done.

        MS didn't even kick him out of the party. The asshole in this story is the reporter, firstly for snooping, and then for writing this article.

          Not really gonna proclaim the authors majorly innocent but I'm also going to go on record and say they handled the situation poorly. Allowing people to take photos freely at the event, well, that's just asking for situations like that. Then, with bullying tactics like 'we cant ask you to delete but we can stop you leaving', I'd be on the phone straight away to the police personally if they tried that crap. Deprivation of liberty isn't looked upon very nicely. Especially when they're all told they can freely take photos.

            I figured it was about the photos, so I showed them my camera and told them if it was a problem, I could delete them.

              They made a big point of telling me that they were not telling me to delete the photos. That’s because they really couldn’t, since they never said what could or couldn’t be photos. But they also didn’t want me to leave that little room with those photos.

              The content here is a little more relevant seeing as they clearly say they never said what could or couldn't be photographed.

              Last edited 13/06/13 11:20 pm

                But they also didn’t want me to leave that little room with those photos.

                This is the author painting a picture. It's not a quote, it a yarn.. "It's the vibe they gave off your honour".. he's embellishing for effect. You are treating it like a quote. Are you saying that giving a vibe that they want him to do what he offered to do was "handling the situation poorly"??

                they clearly say they never said what could or couldn't be photographed.

                ..this was the equivalent to an upskirt paparazzi shot. It's not cool, not respectful. People don't carry signs saying not to do it. That still doesn't make it journalism. MS had every right to convey their disappointment with his actions.

                  Here's the thing, quite often? The 'vibe' is the very correct thing. I'll go with the fact MS definitely did not want the photos taken, going by their actions, it's the logical step. I'm going by what the story says and taking logical steps by what their reactions would be. They don't want him taking photos of it, they won't deprive him of his liberty up front but they will give the 'incentive' that they'd 'rather' him not have those photos. They can convey all the 'disappointment' they want, but again, the *only* thing to consider here whether you like it or not, is the fact MS did not stipulate what was on and off the table for photographies sake. You're dealing with journalists for gods sake. In that case? You have to be *VERY* specific. My dad looked after security at the Mater hospital in the 90s when Michael Jackson visited the childrens wards (cue the jokes) you best BELIEVE they had to be UBER specific to the press about the do's and dont's about their behaviour, what they can and can't do. When you give open slather, they're GOING to take it. I don't necessarily agree with what he's done, going into the back and getting a photo? It's prying when its not really needed? But at the same time, he was not told at any point specifically he could not. That's a fact that's been clearly conveyed. The models spread her legs, worn no panties and is now screaming about the press taking beaver shots. Sorry but no dice.

                  Even as corporate apologists go, you are the apologsity OCD.

                  Go back to r/libertarian, r/mewlingxboxfanboy, or whatever subreddit you crawled out from.

                Also, imagine my surprise when I realized that it was you who was down-voting me. Stay Classy.

                  Fair point, removed. That's a little bit of an overreaction. All a downvote means is you disagree, not that you hate the person.

                  Classy? Like calling the author an "asshole". My friend you have made more of an arsehat of yourself in these comments than the author ever could have in the article. But hey, there is an excuse to spend another few hours of your time on it.
                  *big grin, both thumbs up*
                  Good job!

          Man, I really hate those reporters who all snoopy, looking at things, asking questions, trying to find out information and all that. Then they have the gall to go out and tell people about what they've found. What arseholes they are.

    what is he waiting for? get out the recovery software, get those images back, share them on the internet for all to see

    I'm not sure what the specific laws are in the USA, however in Australia what occurred in that room can be classified as false imprisonment, which is an indictable offence. I would seriously consider reporting those events to the police as it's ridiculous that they made you stay in that room until you deleted the photos.

      Well, not really.

      He was at a private event, the implied consent to take photos doesn't extend to non-public places. e.g. Sneaking a photo behind a cabinet that was clearly supposed to be hidden from the public, isn't part of the consent to take photos in a public place.

      Just like if it was hands on, and they said, you can play games on the consoles/computers. So you jump on the one behind the cabinet. Clearly that is not the intent, and not the permission.

      Or if you like, if you walk through a staff only door, into the control room, you also couldn't take photos there. It is all the same. Areas you aren't supposed to be messing with, also can't be photographed, and if you do, they can take steps to protect their IP.

    The laptops probably belonged to the NSA.
    You never actually spoke to anybody from Microsoft.
    Microsoft didn't know about the laptops.

    Xbox Jail is a much better name for the xbone

    It's probably running on OSX Mavericks Beta. Lol

    there's no point of deleting photos in the digital age... unless you destroy the memory card it's really easy to recover the photos

    Kinda funny that the company that wants to put a camera in our living rooms is the one being paranoid.

    Oh Microsoft.... how you've disappointed the masses this year.
    I wonder if Brent3000 is onto something.

    So you where caught snooping and taking photos of something you shouldnt have been, and someone talked to you about it.


    You where a guest of Microsofts, act like a guest.
    If you where a guest in someone's house, would go snooping around their house?

    Im sure their wasnt a rule about punching someone in the face, did you do that too?

      Ah the guys a journalist , of course he would go snooping around your house if there was a story to be told.

        True, but I think the real question is whether or not a journalist should go snooping, not whether or not they would would go snooping.

    Hahaha, "Microsoft jail changes you."

    Pretty sure there's a tongue firmly in the cheek of this article. The author himself seems pretty calm about the whole thing.

    1. Disappointing that you went with the goon when he had no legal way to force you to go with him.
    2. Disappointing that you deleted the photos when you didn't have to.

    ok... let's pretend nobody knows about undelete programs which can retrieve datas from deleted or formated flash cards,
    would be the first thing to come to your mind rather than drawing pictures... anyway.. haters gonna hate

    sound like another situation where some forethought and a few padlocks would have been in order.

    Hey, seems that I know why they made this image forbidden.
    Look at this: http://www.cinemablend.com/games/Xbox-One-Games-E3-Were-Running-Windows-7-With-Nvidia-GTX-Cards-56737.html

    Xbox One games were not demoed on Xbox One! They've been running on computers with Windows 7 and Nvidia GTX 700 series cards!

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