I thought this would be all over the news today or at least on the gaming sites, but no one seems to be picking up on it yet. Microsoft released a couple patches for the Xbox 360 over the past few days, the latest of which has a massive install bug, rendering backwards compatiblity broken on a bunch of systems, including yours truly's. Check out the comments on Major Nelson's blog to see the gathering outcry.
What happened seems classic Microsoft. I think they're under pressure to get more old games to run on the new system, so they released an update to their backwards compatibility list a couple days ago which included a bunch of Tom Clancy games like Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon. When you connected to XBox Live with an older game in your system, it would prompt you to download an update to the emulation code sitting on your hard drive. This happened to me on Thursday playing Halo 2. But according to Major Nelson's blog, there were problems with the patch and Halo 2 played in wide-screen, so they quickly released another patch which fixed this problem, but added a massive new bug which completely disabled emulation all together. In other words, no original XBox games will play on the new box.
What happened to me, and Diego and a bunch of people on Nelson's blog is exactly the same: We popped in Ghost Recon (or some other older disc) last night into the 360 and it prompted us to download another update. But during the download/install it stalled at 99% and wouldn't continue. The message on the screen warns you strenuously NOT to reboot, so after 20 minutes or so of waiting, I clicked the "b" button which prompt said would cancel the update, only to get a blank dialog box in return, and then it *really* hung. I couldn't escape back to the main dashboard or anything. After 30 minutes of waiting after that, I finally rebooted the console manually.
At first I thought the whole system was fried, as it wouldn't go into the dashboard at all with an old game in the drive, but once I took it out, I realized that everything was working, I just can't start an old game. If you try to start an old title from the dashboard, all you get is a blank screen. Joy. I was really looking forward to playing Ghost Recon too (I bought it yesterday just because I read that it was now supported).
This wouldn't be that big of a deal if there was a killer new game for the 360 which I mostly played, but most of the reason for getting the Premium Bundle is that backwards compatiblity with games like Halo 2, which rocks. If you want to play with a bunch of your friends online, it's still the best option.
I think it's surprising no one is writing about it on Joystiq or whatnot... maybe there's not that many of us who've done the update yet. But I'm sure that'll change quickly. Let's hope they can fix it over the wire and I won't have to ship back my hard drive or something!
Update: Monday 2:35 P.M. My 360 is still not working for old games, so I called and spoke with a customer service rep at 1-800-4MY-XBOX and he said that they know about the problem (since Friday), it's been a recurring issue for users around the world with the December update, and that they are working to fix the issue now. He said to keep trying over the next few days, and a NEW patch will be released which should fix it.