Respect is difficult to gauge because it's based entirely on a consumer's feeling, and not on statistics. However, if one takes a step back and tries to put their finger on the pulse of the gaming populace, we can try to get a sense of how these two competitors are viewed.
And before anyone wants to make idiotic assumptions, we're not saying that Sony is more respected than Microsoft; we're not about to make such a definitive, factual statement because we could never prove it. All we can do is point to the evidence we see and come to a reasonable conclusion, but everyone's opinions and personal experience are apt to change. We're well aware of this. However, what we've seen and heard should be worthy of mention, and it's an interesting topic of discussion. A company gains a consumer's respect by producing a quality product that said consumer gets a lot of enjoyment out of…and with limited frustration. If we use this definition, which we would assume that most would agree with, we can view the situation in this way:
In terms of customer service, from our viewpoint, it's a no-brainer. Every time I or anyone else I know has contacted Sony, we will actually speak to someone who A. lists English as their first language, and B. is actually helpful. One representative actually spent a good 20 minutes with me fixing a problem with my PS3 last year, and it was an obscure setting that needed to be changed; not something you can just look up in a manual. In our experience with Microsoft customer service, we tend to get people we can barely understand who only suggest that we "restart the machine." Now, obviously, this doesn't mean everyone has the same experiences, but with the atrocious reliability of the Xbox 360, that alone has generated plenty of Microsoft enemies out there. Even the most ardent 360 fans have been heard to say, "oh yeah, it's a piece of sh** but I love the games on it." …that's not really a good sign.
Then there's how the two companies handle their business. We recently did an article regarding Microsoft taking jabs at Sony, and we pointed out that this happens a lot . In fact, it almost seems as if MS can only sling mud, while Sony typically just sticks to themselves. Both companies will promote their products, of course, but it just appears to us as if Sony isn't about attacking the competition, while Microsoft is all about that. We read press releases and news articles in the industry every damn day, and we really can't see how this particular point would be subject to debate. Lastly, one could look at the smaller aspects, like the Network vs. Live, or something. We could argue about that for days, but let's just say that most 360 players aren't too upset about a $50 fee, which means they probably don't blame MS for anything. And that's perfectly fair. One could also say that MS is more willing to drop the price of their hardware, especially in light of Sony's recent refusal to cut the price of the PS3.
There are many factors to consider but from our chair here, it does appear as if Sony is a more respected company. Even in looking back at history, it seems abundantly clear that the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 have far better reputations than the original Xbox, and we've certainly seen a definite momentum shift in this generation. Going forward, the gaming crowd seems to have more faith in Sony even if they still have reservations, and many still roll their eyes and shake their heads when Microsoft is mentioned. Oh, and just as an added point…Vista was a colossal failure in the eyes of the consumer while Sony Bravias cost about half what they used to this time last year, and remain some of the best TVs available. That's just an example, and I'm sure many more can be made for or against each company. But you get the idea.