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MS axes Xbox 360 HD DVD drive

After Toshiba, after the studios...

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Microsoft is dropping its HD DVD add-on drive from its list of Xbox 360 add-ons, the software giant revealed this past weekend.

The blame was placed firmly on "recent decisions made by Toshiba, Hollywood studios, and retailers", but whoever's responsible, MS will "no longer manufacture new HD DVD players for the Xbox 360".

The move comes as no great surprise. After Toshiba's decision to throw in the towel in the format fight and concede victory to Blu-ray Disc, a move that will see it cease manufacture of HD DVD drives, Microsoft would at the very least have to find a new drive supplier.

But with major retailers Wal-Mart and Best Buy dropping HD DVD movies, and both Paramount and Universal Studios now committed to Blu-ray, there's not a lot of point in an Xbox 360 owner investing in the HD DVD drive from now on. The Xbox 360 add-on was intended solely for film viewing.

MS' decision highlights its wisdom in opting for an external HD DVD drive rather than going the whole hog and building the drive into a new version of the console. Fans of the format will accuse Microsoft of helping the format's failure by failing to support HD DVD the way Sony promoted Blu-ray Disc by building it into the PlayStation 3.

Will MS offer a Blu-ray drive for the 360? All the company said on the matter this time is: "HD DVD is one of the several ways we offer a high definition experience to consumers and we will continue to give consumers the choice to enjoy digital distribution of high definition movies and TV shows directly to their living room, along with playback of the DVD movies they already own."

Looks like it has its eye on a future in which movies are downloaded.

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