Microsoft stands behind HD DVD for Xbox 360

Microsoft's director of global marketing for the Xbox 360, Albert Penello, told BetaNews this morning that the company will continue to push an HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360, but acknowledged the external nature would enable it to ship a Blu-ray drive if Sony's format became the new high-definition standard.

Penello also said that despite the rumors, Microsoft has never planned to ship an Xbox console with an integrated HD DVD drive, but the decision has nothing to do with the uncertainty in the format war. Because neither standard was finalized when the Xbox 360 shipped, Microsoft opted to use DVDs.

Changing that now could lead to confusion among consumers, Penello added, especially if game developers were to make use of the larger space on HD DVD discs. He admitted that Sony's inclusion of Blu-ray in the PlayStation 3 has helped that format, but said Microsoft's add-on HD DVD drive alone has outsold all standalone Blu-ray players combined.

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Moreover, Penello noted that any customer who purchased the HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 was doing so solely to watch movies, while only a comparatively small number of PS3 owners have been purchasing Blu-ray films.

While Warner Bros. decision to drop HD DVD and speculation that Paramount would follow suit clearly hindered the format, Penello said that Microsoft would remain committed. "Until Toshiba goes out of business, this war is not over," he stated.

"Consumers are choosing HD DVD, but Hollywood isn't listening. While HD DVD has been trying to sell the format to consumers, Sony has focused on selling the Blu-ray brand and company." That strategy has proven very successful when it comes to dealing the movie studios and led to a perception of dominance in the marketplace.

And if HD DVD did pack up and go home? Then Microsoft would have the option of offering an add-on Blu-ray drive, said Penello.

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