Microsoft: HD DVD demise won't hurt Xbox 360

Microsoft says Toshiba decision to phase out HD DVD won't hurt Xbox 360.

Toshiba's announcement to end production of HD DVD players and recorders will not affect the Xbox 360, even though Microsoft offers an optional stand-alone HD DVD drive for the game console, Microsoft said in a statement Tuesday.

"We do not believe Toshiba's announcement about HD DVD will have any material impact on the Xbox 360 platform or our position in the marketplace," Microsoft said. The gaming function of the console is its main attraction, the company added.

The company did not say whether or not it will stop manufacturing the HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360.

Earlier Tuesday, Toshiba formally announced an end to its support of HD DVD, a high-definition optical disc format meant to replace DVDs. Toshiba was the developer and main backer of HD DVD, and its capitulation handed victory to rival format Blu-ray Disc, which has been championed by Sony.

Toshiba said its decision came after careful analysis of the long-term impact of continuing the format war, and said a swift decision was called for to help the high-definition market develop.

For game consoles, high-definition discs are growing in importance. Sony put Blu-ray Disc drives in the PlayStation 3 as a way to spread popularity of the high-definition discs. PlayStation 3 owners can play HD movies on the drives as well as advanced games. Blu-ray discs can hold far more data than conventional DVDs, and give players high definition graphics on games.

At a recent game show in Taipei, Sony showed off a display of over 100 game titles created using Blu-ray Disc. A nearby Xbox 360 booth displayed the HD DVD logo and showed movies and just a few games made for the format.

Recent changes in the market prompted Toshiba's decision to phase out HD DVD. Early this year, Warner Bros. said it would stop issuing movies on HD DVD in the coming months and rely exclusively on Blu-ray Disc. The Hollywood studio was one of three major studios remaining in the HD DVD camp, and its defection created widespread belief that the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc was now over.

More recently, major U.S. retail chain Wal-Mart announced it would phase out the sale of HD DVD products, moving to exclusivity with Blu-ray Disc. Electronics retailer Best Buy also said it would back Blu-ray Disc, but it did not say it would stop offering HD DVD.

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Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service
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