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Microsoft to offer HD-DVD drive for Xbox 360

But when, and for how much?

Later this year Microsoft plans to offer an HD-DVD add-on drive for its Xbox 360 gaming console, it said yesterday at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

No price or launch date was given for the product. It will allow Xbox 360 owners to watch movies in the HD-DVD high-definition optical disc format on HDTVs by playing them through the console, said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, at a news conference.

The Xbox 360 was launched in late 2005 and supports high-definition gaming. Later this year, Sony is expected to launch its own high-definition gaming console, the PlayStation 3. The Sony console will be based around Blu-ray Disc, which is a competitor of HD-DVD in the race to become the de facto replacement for DVD for high-definition content.

Microsoft declared its support for HD-DVD last year before the Xbox 360 was launched. At the time Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, said HD-DVD wouldn't make it into the launch player but might play a part in the future of the console.

Earlier, Toshiba unveiled its first two commercial HD-DVD players. Both will go on sale in the US in March this year and they will be priced at $500 (about £290) and $800 (£465), Toshiba said.


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