Microsoft, Blu-ray, and the back-up plan?

Blu-ray, Columns & Opinion, Gaming, HD DVD, Home cinema, Top stories

andy-merrett.jpgAndy Merrett writes…

Last week we reported that, based on an iTmedia interview with Peter Moore, there was the possibility that Microsoft would support Blu-ray via the Xbox 360 console if that format became dominant over HD DVD at some time in the future.

Apparently, we were wrong.

On the Gamerscoreblog, a Microsoft representative “cleared the air” by stating that those reports were based on taking Moore’s words out of context, and are simply incorrect.

We firmly stand behind the HD DVD format as the best choice for consumers. Current reports indicating that Microsoft has a back-up plan, which includes Blu-ray support are incorrect. We’re fully committed to HD DVD and have absolutely no plans to support other optical formats.

Now I’m left wondering if Microsoft is arrogant, or stupid, or both.

I can’t believe that Microsoft would stick with a hardware add-on that supports a redundant high definition disc format.

The battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray is raging now, and many (but not all) companies have chosen to support one side or the other, but it’s unlikely to stay that way forever.

It may take time, but at some point one of two things will happen. Either one format will “win” outright, or hybrid players will make the war irrelevant. Either way, if HD DVD doesn’t become the sole champion, I don’t really believe that Microsoft would so arrogantly or stupidly stick to a dead format.

After all, the only purpose of the Xbox 360’s external HD DVD drive is to play high definition movies. If there are no discs, or the majority are being released in Blu-ray format and most people are buying dual-format players, then there’s little point to the player.

Sony have ploughed so much time, money, and development into Blu-ray, and the success of the PS3 has such a strong dependence on it, that they are intrinsically committed to it. Microsoft, while backing HD DVD, don’t (or shouldn’t) have that level of commitment. All they need to do is buy in the best hardware for the job, based on the current conditions.

Maybe Microsoft are banking on both high definition disc formats fading away as movie downloads via the Net take off. After all, they have the Xbox Marketplace that already offers high definition content. In which case, that’s a backup place.

Perhaps Microsoft don’t like to call it a backup plan, because that sounds like something that you resort to if the first plan goes wrong. This could come down to pedantic wording, but to my mind it sounds like a knee-jerk backlash against Blu-ray.

Is the thought of adopting Blu-ray so repulsive to Microsoft that they have to defend HD DVD as the one and only way?

It’s not.

Maybe they’re looking at Sony’s past failures, but it’s worth remembering that, after Betamax failed in the consumer market, Sony made its own VHS recorders.

Surely Microsoft have a high definition strategy in there somewhere?

Andy Merrett
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One thought on “Microsoft, Blu-ray, and the back-up plan?

  • This may be a totally ignorant comment, but am i right in thinking that Sony own some of the rights to Blu-Ray? And if so, could Sony effectively kill-off the Xbox console by not allowing Microsoft to use Blu-ray?
    Blu-Ray seems to be the main format now for the forseeable future so Microsoft could find themselves with a problem when its time for the new Xbox console to be developed

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