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Microsoft refuses to comment on Blu-ray Xbox 360

Software giant stays mum on demise of HD DVD

Microsoft has shrugged off the demise of the HD DVD format, declining to say if or when it would support Blu-ray Disc for the Xbox.

Microsoft steadfastly backed HD DVD, selling an external drive for the Xbox for £115. That offer was still available on the UK Xbox website (which links to www.hmv.co.uk) as of Tuesday afternoon, despite the news that Toshiba will scuttle the format. Toshiba had been the lead electronics manufacturer in a coalition of companies pushing that format but content producers have thrown their support to Blu-ray.

See also: Timeline: HD DVD versus Blu-ray

Microsoft's decision to make the HD DVD drive external rather than within the console "was quite a strategic move on their part", said Paul O'Donovan, principal analyst with Gartner.

However, it's inevitable that future Xbox versions, as well as other gaming systems aimed at tighter integration with entertainment systems, will incorporate Blu-ray Disc drives, said O'Donovan. The Xbox currently has a standard DVD drive.

Sony gained momentum for its Blu-ray player by putting it in its PlayStation 3 (PS3) console, according to research firm IDC.

The PS3's "dual roles as a gaming console and a next-generation DVD player have made it an important part of the format war", according to the report.

Prior to Toshiba's announcement, Microsoft downplayed the rumours of HD DVD's death, contending buyers are more interested in gaming functions.

"We do not believe the recent reports about HD DVD will have any material impact on the Xbox 360 platform or our position in the marketplace," the company said. "It is premature to speculate but we do know from market data that HD movie playback is not a primary purchase driver for consumers buying video game consoles."

O'Donovan agreed the company likely won't face declining sales of its Xbox gaming console. But Microsoft's greater problem may be getting rid of the external HD DVD drives in its inventory.

HD DVD is "dead and gone" now, O'Donovan said.


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