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Monday, August 01, 2005
HD-DVD for Xbox 360


The past three days there's been plenty of chatter online about how Bill Gates supposedly said that the Xbox will launch without any optical high definition video support this year, but that Microsoft will be siding with Toshiba and adding HD-DVD support sometime after the launch.

The decision leaves a bad taste in the mouths of plenty of gamers, and if it's true, it may lead some people to wait on their Xbox 360 acquisitions?not everyone has an abundance of space for electronics galore.

The problem with this story is that I can't find anything to corroborate it. While plenty of blogs and news sites write things such as "Bill Gates said that the Xbox will get HD-DVD support next year," there's not a single actual quote out there, and I can't find where they're getting this. I complained about this yesterday in an Opposable Thumbs comment.

I reported this back on June 27 (and expanded on two days later) when Gates said that Microsoft was thinking about HD-DVD, and that the company was partnering with Toshiba on various different projects. This opens the possibility of Microsoft backing HD-DVD, and it even opens the possibility of them adding HD-DVD support to the next-gen Xbox at some point, but this is far from confirmed. Nay, it's just that several sites are recycling news that's a month old. I was having trouble finding the root of the misinformation until someone submitted it to Slashdot. As I expected, it's old news, with a patently incorrect quote summary attributed to Gates. Here's what Gates actually said, according to Bloomberg, which is what my previous reports were centered around:

"The initial shipments of Xbox 360 will be based on today's DVD format," Gates said. "We are looking at whether future versions of Xbox 360 will incorporate an additional capability of an HD DVD player or something else."

Emphasis added. That's it. Nothing else has been said on the matter. It should be stressed: in Japan last month Gates explicitly noted that Microsoft has not yet committed to Blu-ray or HD-DVD. All of these reports about what Bill Gates "said" about an HD-DVD revision are just flat-out wrong, and it's distressing to see how one-month old news, with false analytical interpretation, can get passed around the so-called blogosphere as fact, only to be picked up by other news sites as fact. It's not hearsay we're talking about here, we're talking about claims about what the Chairman of Microsoft said. Maybe I'm just cranky today.

So, is this an open and shut case? No, it's not. If we want to start talking probabilities, then I'll concur: HD-DVD seems like the most likely choice for Microsoft. But let's not put words into the mouth of Mr. Gates.

From Ars Technica



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