Sony have announced a new PS3 firmware update, but while most users generally look forward to such events, v3.21 is likely to cause Sony no end of headaches. That's because, rather than add in functionality, PS3 firmware v3.21 seems only intended to remove the ability to install other OSes to the console. Sony have described the move - which will impact versions of the PS3 prior to the current PS3 Slim model - as prompted by "security concerns", though fail to detail exactly what those concerns might be. It's a decision that some believe is connected to geohot's hacking of the PS3 back in January 2010.
The firmware update is described as optional, which means that those gamers who have already installed alternative platforms - such as Linux - to their consoles will be able to leave them in place should they so wish. However, failing to upgrade to v3.21 will mean that PlayStation Network access is blocked, "playback of PS3 software titles or Blu-ray Disc videos that require PS3 system software version 3.21 or later" isn't possible, and copyright-protected videos stored on media servers won't be accessible.
It's not much of a decision, really, unless you bought a PS3 solely to install a different platform on it. Those using alternative OSes should make sure to back up their data before installing the update, as not only will they be unable to load the other platforms but they won't have access to information stored in the "Other OS" data partition. The new firmware will be released on April 1st 2010.