Xbox to sport Blu-ray sidecar?
According to Microsoft’s spinsters, Moore’s comments were intended to merely highlight the inherent flexibility of using external drives: “Xbox360 is a future-proofed system - one that allows us to add features as consumers demand them - as evidenced by our offering of the HD-DVD drive as an accessory. Current reports indicating that we have a back-up plan, which includes Blu-Ray support are incorrect. At this point, we're fully committed to HD-DVD and have absolutely no plans to support other optical formats.”
As UAV reported earlier, Microsoft at CES 2006 announced that it was developing an external HD DVD drive for its Xbox 360 gaming console. The company believes this architecture holds an advantage. If HD DVD were to win the format war, for example, how would that impact owners of the Blu-ray based PlayStation3 gaming console, to be released later this year? Given that consumers will be able buy stand alone players, does it matter which format either of these gaming consoles will play?
Microsoft’s stance in being solely pro HD DVD is at least a little peculiar. Hewlett Packard’s stance for example, of being neutral and offering products to support both formats seems far more sensible given that HD DVD currently enjoys hardware support almost solely from Toshiba and software support from only Warner, Paramount and Universal. On the other side, Blu-ray players have been announced from Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer, and Samsung , and movies from Warner, Paramount, Fox, Sony Pictures (which now owns MGM as well), and Buena Vista (Disney).
Nevertheless, Microsoft’s current contention is that it will build support for HD DVD only into its next operating system, dubbed Vista. I seriously question not only this strategy, but whether it’s completely true that some contingency development isn’t going on at Microsoft just in case Blu-ray, with all of its advantages, prevails in the marketplace. That would seem just too irresponsible, but who knows?