In a statement posted on the Xbox support site, Microsoft said the E74 error message which some users have experienced indicates a "general hardware failure that is associated with three flashing red lights error on the console." The company claimed that a "very small percentage" of users have experienced the problem and noted that improvements already incorporated into the system make the error even less likely to occur, but said the association with the "red ring" general failure led it to cover the required repairs under the same warranty.
Microsoft said customers who have already paid for out-of-warranty repairs for the issue will be reimbursed. "Microsoft will refund to customers the amount paid for an out of warranty repair due to a general hardware failure associated with the e74 error message," the company said. "Those customers should automatically receive the refund within 4-12 weeks, and no additional action by customers should be necessary."
The Xbox 360 has been plagued by high failure rates since it launched, most notably in the form of the form of three red lights surrounding the console's power button known as the "Red Ring of Death." Described by Dean Takahashi as "one of the worst snafus in consumer electronics history," the problem was finally acknowledged by Microsoft in mid-2007 when the company agreed to extend the system's warranty to three years and reimburse customers who had already paid for related repairs. Estimates on the cost of those repairs to Microsoft ran from $1.05 to $1.15 billion.
For more information about the E74 error and Microsoft's updated warranty coverage, go to support.xbox.com.