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Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Xbox Could Consider Blu-ray Support

Although Microsoft's Xbox 360 still fully backs Toshiba 's HD-DVD format, the company could consider supporting rival Blu-ray technology should consumers want it, an executive said on Tuesday.

"It should be consumer choice; and if that's the way they vote, that's something we'll have to consider," Albert Penello, group marketing manager for Xbox hardware said in an interview with Reuters, when asked whether Microsoft would support a Blu-ray DVD accessory in the event that HD-DVD failed.

Microsoft does not believe the surprise decision last week by Warner Bros, the top seller of home movies, to abandon HD-DVD format in favor of Blu-ray should affect sales of its Xbox 360 video game console.

"You can't say it's not a bummer, not a setback, but I've seen this battle declared over so many times," Penello said of Warner's decision.

"I want consumers to have a voice in this and I think there are a lot of consumers who bought HD-DVD who are going to have a say in how this shakes out."

Penello also denied the recent rumors claiming that Microsoft planned to ship an Xbox console with an integrated HD DVD drive.

As a software maker, Microsoft's corporate policy on the format war has been always flexible enough to allow the company to "follow the consumer's needs". The company has promoted its .NET software developing platform by offering developing tools for the HDi interactive features of the HD DVD movies, while the external nature of the HD DVD ROM drive for its Xbox 360 game unit allows for easy replacement by a Blu-ray drive in the future. But on the back of Bill Gates' mind, you can always see the vision for a world with no physical media, with premium content provided through digital internet downloads.

Gates did not make any comment at its CES keynote on the format war and Warner's stance. However, he had a conversation with USAToday at CES.

"The announcement before that was Paramount putting exclusive support behind HD-DVD. HD-DVD did well over the holidays. The other trend we're seeing is that direct download over broadband - I think the greatest example of that is Xbox Live - (is) becoming an important choice. Over time, that will be the dominant way that people get their movies," Gates said.

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