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back to article Microsoft backpedals on Blu-ray for Xbox 360 comments

Microsoft today stressed that it believes HD DVD is the best optical disc for consumers and that it has no plans to support Blu-ray Disc on the Xbox 360, despite recent comments from company staffers that it might. The company reaffirmed its love for HD DVD following a news story in which Microsoft suggested it might back Blu- …

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Stop

Bollocks

So from their comment, they believe that Blu-ray not not offer quality, and is not affordable.

The chart positions of Blu-ray discs from every retailer would beg to differ!

HDDVD FUD we've been hearing all year.

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*if*

I didn't know chart positions defined quility or affordability! Learn something new every day! </sarcasm>

All-in-all this is obvious really. MS back HD-DVD, so *if* HD-DVD fails (which they think wont happen), they will make a Blu-Ray player for the 360 *if* there's enough demand.

Remember - *if*!

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Anonymous Coward

@Joe k

I think they are saying that if MS were to sell blu ray for the 360 Sony would charge a large amount for the privellage. So it would cost a lot more that the hd dvd add on, which probably costs them very little in comparison.

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Happy

Pure Embarrassment.

I think they realise how big a laugh for everyone it will provide if they do in the end have to release a BD drive for the 360 after how much cash they poured into it's rival it would be a serious embarrassment and they wont do it unless they absolutely have to.

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Bronze badge

Re: Microsoft backpedals on Blu-ray for Xbox 360 comments

Microsoft will support HD-DVD to the death. HD-DVD uses Microsoft's HDi. Blu ray uses BD-J, based on Sun's Java.

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Gates Halo

@ Joe

Perhaps they mean the HD-DVD license is affordable for them and the Blu-ray one is not.

Possibly because Sony in general charge ludicrous licensing fees (hence the cost difference between a SanDisk MemoryStick and any other one of SanDisk's equivalently sized products - a markup of around 100%, in fact).

Which does not bode well for a £40 BluRay player appearing at any time in the next ten years.

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Thumb Up

Microsoft Takeover

All MS need to do is stop giving to charity for a couple of days, buy Sony outright, then they can use BlueRay without paying royalties :)

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Go

@Joe K

No, the problem is that the BD equipment is more expensive to purchase (let alone produce) than HD-DVD and even though there is little difference in price to consumers for media, the production costs to make BD disks is higher so the profit margins to producers is less.

Frankly in terms of quality, they are both the same, but the issue is which one offers the best bang for the buck? How would you feel about having to shell out $250-$300(US) more for a BD deck for your 360 vs the $180 for HD-DVD?

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Ian

They have to say this

and frankly I don't blame them.

Not really something to bitch about, just bog standard business sense.

It may be a long shot for HD-DVD to make a comeback but with such a big investment it'd be more stupid to write it off already than to at least play it positive for the format.

Chances are they don't want to make any change in policy until they've sat down with paramount, dreamworks, universal and toshiba to figure out what the battle plan is.

If the plan is to let paramount, dreamworks and universal leave for Bluray then we'll likely hear an alternative announcement.

To make anything of this right now is rather foolish, it's a clarification of the official line, nothing more nothing less.

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Usual MS ruthless pragmatism

They're not going to talk down the format while there's still the slightest chance of it succeeding, but they don't want to get stuck with a failed format, so they're making contingency plans. Perfectly normal.

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@Joe K, Not bollocks

Carefully spun, yes, but then your comment clearly isn't an unbiased view either.

"Microsoft today said that HD DVD remains the only format to deliver quality experiences at affordable prices."

That says good quality at an affordable price, there's no assertion that Blu-ray doesn't deliver quality, only an assertion that if it does then it's not affordable.

Blu-ray is, of course, capable of delivering better quality than HD-DVD, the spec gives it more bandwidth, and discs have higher capacity. It's also got a lot of additional costs though. HD-DVDs can be manufactured at current DVD-manufacturing plants with minimal expenditure, which is not true of Blu-ray. The HD-DVD player spec was actually finished before people started manufacturing the players, so even cheap HD-DVD players support next-gen features, which are only matched by a small number of recently released premium blu-ray players. And HD-DVD is inherently cheaper and simpler to produce, lacking silly things like extra layers of copy protection which only last a week, and having a simpler virtual machine (insert reasons for hating java here) for the interactivity features.

Of course the statement is an exercise in spin, if one of the primary backers is seen to be eyeing up the opposing format that's hardly good PR, but it's no myth that HD-DVD is cheaper for the consumer.

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Coat

Listening to what customers want

Customers don't want goods that are not fit for purpose, and that includes the ever-so-faulty X-box as well as "operating systems" that are DRMed up the arse.

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Happy

I dont believe it !

Microsoft talking about quality and affordability ? Have they seen how much Vista costs !

They are too used to getting their own way, but people are not as dumb as corporate managers and choose what is best for them and not for supplier's profits.

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Stop

More FUD

'However, Microsoft today said that HD DVD remains the only format to deliver quality experiences at affordable prices.'

And they come to this conclusion how? More customers = lower prices as the cost of manufacturing comes down. Blu-ray is slamming HD-DVD in numbers of sales, therefore it is easy to see that in a short space of time HD-DVD will be the more expensive format. Plus its capacity is crap so where Blu-Ray can fit content onto a single disk, HD-DVD may take 2 disks for the same content, again pushing prices up becuase of extra production and packaging costs.

Expect Paramount and Universal to head towards Blu-Ray soon, followed by Microsoft eating a lot of humble pie and scrapping the 360s HD-DVD drive in favour of Blu-Ray

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Boo

Do you not think maybe bluray is outselling because due to the massive amount of bribes sony has thrown at movie houses, there are more movies available on bluray than on hddvd

And the sudden large price drop in ps3's giving everyone a nice free bluray player probably helps too!!

If the same movies were available on both formats and bluray still outsold hdvd then yes, you could say it was a better format

But it isnt.

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Joke

come on!!

I mean its microsoft, how often do they admit they've got it wrong? Tablet of anyone?

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Ian

RE: Pure Embarassment

No, this is the whole reason they released it as an add-on because whilst they support HD-DVD there was never any guarantee it'd be the winning format. It played out not how they wanted but they planned for it and regardless of the outcome of the format wars can come out with their console unscathed because it makes zero difference to the console itself, it's lost nothing other than an add-on which is no big deal.

Embarrassment would've been a vice-versa situation, had Bluray lost Sony would've been _really_ fucked with their inbuilt drives. The relatively slow seek time on Sonys Bluray drives makes it less ideal for gaming, but the advantage of playing hi-def films outweighs that for most people, the loss of hi-def content on it would've just been tragic for them.

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Gates Halo

Uh-huh...

Phone rings.

Hello? Oh, Hi Tosh, how're you doing mate?

Bill, we got a problem.

A problem Tosh? What's up?

Bill, one of your serfs has been talking Blu in the press. They use the Blu word and now the papers are running with it. It's awful. Damn those Warner boys, they really stirred up some trouble and now your serfs can't tow the line. Do something Bill. Please? Pretty Please? It looks like we're losing.

Yeah Tosh, it does, doesn't it? 'Course you are losing mate, you know that right?

But Bill......

Alright, stop your whining. One of my senior serfs will do something.

Oh, thank you Bill. Thank you. You won't regret this.

I'm regretting it alre....

'Click' as phone is hung up.

Damn, Tosh is such a baby. It's not like we promised to put one of his fancy new drives in our game box. Hey, Albert. Do something will ya? Change the numbers or something. Keep that annoying Tosh out of my phone. Oh yeah, go talk up his toys, he's pissed because one of you lot had the stupidity to speak honestly to the press. Don't do it again.

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Gates Horns

B.S.

"Microsoft today said that HD DVD remains the only format to deliver quality experiences at affordable prices"

What B.S.

I've not invested in either format but have kept an eye on the market for prices of hardware and media.

As far as hardware goes, the formats deliver a similar end-user experience.

I would expect a reasonable outlay to view Hi-Def films, and both format seem to have standalone players pitched at the £200-£300 mark in the UK.

As far as media goes, where films have been released on both formats, the prices have been very similar, if not identical.

If one format sold films at £12-14 instead of a rip-off £25 (considering the same film on DVD is usually less than £12), I would invest in that format.

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Pirate

first statement PC, 2nd just PR and laughable

Their first statement said that if the market/customers play it out to a Blu-ray win, then they will accept that. The second statement, being after the first, pretty much said screw the consumer, we are backing HD-DVD and we will do so at all costs.

The first statement was surprisingly fresh coming from a Microsoft person. The follow up statement is more what I expected. After all, Microsoft has invested millions into fighting off Blu-ray and millions more promoting HD-DVD. They surely can't stand seeing any Sun Java technology winning in the market and that goes for Blu-ray. Any Java success is threat to their developer control and platform protection.

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Happy

@ Boo

"Do you not think maybe bluray is outselling because due to the massive amount of bribes sony has thrown at movie houses, there are more movies available on bluray than on hddvd"

All I can say is LOL! Somehow Sony is 'bribing' them eh? Evidence?

Also correct me if im wrong, but consumers buy movies, not movie houses. So Sony could bribe the movie houses all they want, but it won't change the fact the consumers are chosing BluRay over HD-DVD time and time again, no bribes necessary.

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Alien

Which is best....

I can sit here and breach gosible about which is best but that seems very sad. I will give you some FACT's about each format:

Blu-ray:

Is MORE exspensive to produce (if you know anything about optical data you will know why).

At maximum cap is store's 1GB less than HDDVD.

The read speeds are pretty much identical.

Blu-Ray is out selling HD DVD.

HDDVD

Cheaper to produce, and cheaper drive mech's

Can store 51GB max pot.

Speed pretty much identical.

Has less titles than blu-ray

remember sony were giving away free movies with the ps3 and vouchers as far as i remember.

We've been here before. Either way both formats offer pretty much "Identical" performance, is who ever purswades the most people, MS probably lost due to not including HD DVD when they started selling the xbox 360...

I prefer the 360 over the PS3 in pretty much every way, thats not to say that the PS3 isnt good.

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Stop

@ Phil Barker

You argue that there are more Blu Ray movies than HD DVD movies, and seem to attribute that to companies only releasing some movies on Blu Ray, however, remember, some companies do the same with HD DVD, e.g. Transformers and Shrek.

Dont cry foul that companies arent playing fair only releasing some on Blu Ray, pretending HD DVD is all innocent.

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How about the PC upgrade market

The one area that no one seems to talk about is the availablity of drives for PCs - at the moment you can purchase Blu-Ray reader Combo drives from venders for as little as £88 (inc VAT). The cheapest dual (Blu-Ray and HD DVD) is £136 and I've not seen a dedicated HD DVD drive but I'm sure other someone must have one.

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Happy

chris

sony haven't given away blu ray disks free for a very long time. when the did it was 'casino royale'.

hddvd players around xmas were being sold with up to SEVEN (crap) titles free.

everyone on both sides is guilty of spin(no pun) but really, who cares about extra content/java/data transfer rates.

does the movie look great, does the sound, well..sound great and am I willing to pay for it?

insert blu ray into answer section..

(btw spellchecker?)

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@Chris

Oh dear, you are so woefully mis-informed.

You know, when someone says they're going to give FACTS (upper case intended), it is almost always a good indicator that what follows has as much relation to fact, as Pres. Bush has to a world statesman. Anyway, regarding your 'FACTS';

Standard HD-DVD has 15GB per layer. So a standard dual layer HD-DVD is only 30GB. The new and improved (what's that about a finished specification again?) 17GB per layer HD-DVD discs will manage about 34GB on a dual and 51Gb on a triple layer disc. But since those aren't here yet, and the triples aren't even finished yet, and they may not play on existing drives at all, it seems a bit much to tout them as if they are standard and here already.

Standard Blu-Ray is 25GB per layer, or 50GB on a standard dual layer disc. That's 20GB more than HD-DVD in case you're wondering. Blu-Ray's next step is quad layer discs that store 100GB, and in fact Hitachi demonstrated a quad layer disc playing on a standard drive at last year's CES (2007) show.

So in summary, standard discs now - 50GB for Blu-Ray & 30GB for HD-DVD. Most likely next step for each format, 100GB quad layer discs for Blu-Ray and 51GB triple layer discs for HD-DVD. Seems like Blu-Ray has the better capacity, wouldn't you say?

The media costs about the same in volume, but initial costs for Blu-Ray were higher because of the new investment in production facilities required. Blu-Ray includes a hard-coat covering to protect the disc surface, HD-DVD does not. The data layers are closer to the surface in Blu-Ray, and the hard-coat is needed to protect the disc. HD-DVD data layers are deeper in the disc and the discs do not have a hard-coat protecting them. The hard-coat adds a little to the cost of the Blu-Ray, but increases it's durability greatly (personally I have never seen a scratch on a Blu-Ray disc - though I can't say the same for CDs, DVDs or HD-DVDs).

Speed is not identical. HD-DVD has a maximum data rate that is 36Mbits/second, Blu-Ray allows for 48Mbits/second with 40Mbits/second reserved for video alone. So in fact the basic data bit rate for Blu-Ray is far higher and the video bit rate for Blu-Ray is higher than the total data bot rate for HD-DVD. Speed is not therefore 'pretty much identical'.

The drive mechanisms for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray are very, very similar. They use an almost identical blue LED laser for reading disks and the actual cost of production of the players is virtually the same.

Actual performance is near identical. Most people really can't tell the difference between a movie playing in 1080p with lossless compressed sound and a movie playing in 1080p with uncompressed sound. In other words, they both look and sound great.

If you don't actually know the technical specs, or aren't prepared to research them, please refrain from using them in your arguments.

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Silver badge

@Chris

Not being sarky, but you seem happy to quote the triple-layer HD DVDs, which won't work on a lot of players, in order to make them 1Gb bigger than Blu-Ray, but you didn't mention the upcoming 100GB Blu-Ray discs, and you're wrong on speeds - Blu-Ray's read speed is quite significantly faster than HD-DVDs.

You also pointed out that Sony started giving away Blu-Ray movies. Have Toshiba not recently panicked and started giving away 5-10 free discs with every player, or was that my imagination?

You are, however, entirely right that the HD DVD drives are cheaper to produce. I'd still rather have Blu-Ray.

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Stop

@ Chris

Did you honestly expect people to believe that BR is capable of a mere 50 Gb per disc? Where do you get your facts from? It's not 1Gb less than HD DVD, more like a minimum of 100Gb per disk and with help from companies like Ritek and its 10 layer process, 250Gb!

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Joke

A simple matter of standard

M$ is used to tweak the standards (even their own) so opting for Blu Ray means they ought to shut up.

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what i don't understand...

Is that if microsoft were really serious about hd-dvd they could already have tipped it into the lead, in fact they still could.

If they had released the 360elite with a built in hd-dvd drive, they could, at some point, make games producers make the switch to HD-DVD, it shouldn't affect their production costs. They issue a swift apology to their existing customer base and knock the price of the addon drive right down (ie. $50) to appease them (with the added bonus of millions of pc users, remember vista recognises a 360 hd-dvd drive). Existing customers would buy them to play new games and soon millions of hd-dvd drives would be sat in living rooms everywhere, repeating exactly what sony did with the ps3, but because they already have a much larger customer base hd-dvd would be a much more dominant format.

Hell, even if it fails miserably, at least they've made an extra 40odd gigs of storage available for there developers to play with

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Anonymous Coward

sony sony sony

Sony has to win this war, its electronics devisions have been making a loss for years and its only being propped up by other areas such as the patent it part holds over CDs, a media that is all but dead and cant sustain it for long.

DVDs came about and flooded the market, sadly for sony they didnt have a stake in the DVD and cant claim royalties, since HD DVDs are a logical extention to DVDS sony would yet again lose out.

Which is forcing them to fight tooth and nail to make blu-ray work because if it doesnt they are screwed,

in actual fact they are both screwed anyway, physical media is not he way forward, HD content players and screens are not mainstream and by the time they could reach sustainable levels we'll all be downloading movies via the net and storing them on holographic hard drives capable of 1000TB

hell, ive got almost perfect vision and on a 32in screen at more than 4 meters away i couldnt tell the difference between an upscaled DVD, HD-DVD or blu-ray so its all a load of rubbish and a waste of money....in my opinion

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PIB

@Darren

"hell, ive got almost perfect vision and on a 32in screen at more than 4 meters away i couldnt tell the difference between an upscaled DVD, HD-DVD or blu-ray so its all a load of rubbish and a waste of money....in my opinion"

Well then the TV you're watching on must be crap: I have a high-end Samsung HD TV and I can see an enormous difference. HD broadcasts from Sky are truly impressive too.

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@ Phil Barker

"Do you not think maybe bluray is outselling because due to the massive amount of bribes sony has thrown at movie houses, there are more movies available on bluray than on hddvd"

I was under the impression that it was Toshiba throwing the money around at film houses (such as Paramount for example) to "bribe" them into sticking to HDDVD. I'm not saying it doesn't happen the other way as well, but you seem to have a completely blinkered opinion.

@ Darren Tuffs

That's why when you buy a HDTV, you work out what size is best for the room and distance you are viewing it from. I've seen a graph somewhere (can't remember where) which showed the distances and various resolutions (480p, 576p, 720p, 1080p) and at what sort of distances you could tell the difference on various sizes of TV. So while you might not be able to tell the difference at 4m on a 32" TV, if you happen to have a 48" TV then it is visible from much further.

Personally I have a small house and a 32" TV, so I'm watching it from maybe 2.5 to 3 metres away, and I can tell the difference between upscaled DVD and Blu-Ray in most cases (except crappily encoded films like Casino Royale for example). My mum has a much bigger house and a 48" HDTV, and believe me you can tell a significant difference between inputs.

HD screens are becoming gradually more mainstream and certainly within the middle-classes they are starting to become the norm, as an LCD/Plasma screen offers various benefits (like space occupied for example) over an equivalent CRT, and anyone buying/replacing an LCD/Plasma now will almost certainly buy a HD one (given that there are fairly few non-HD LCD/Plasma screens on the market now). This will naturally lead to people becoming more interested in HD players and I think the market is picking up nicely - otherwise you wouldn't have two big companies fighting over it.

Plus the fact that people still prefer physical content over "downloaded" content stored on a hard drive, and I think this will take many years to change. Sure, it may be the future, but I think you'll find it will be at very least a decade before this method begins to become mainstream.

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@ Darren Tufts

Regarding "physical media is not he(sic) way forward", it's been the logical way for many many years and is not going to suddenly stop in the next few years.

Broadband speeds are still voefully inadequate for any kind of quality multimedia delivery and will be for many years to come.

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@Darren

"CDs, a media that is all but dead"

Hmm - there seem to be a few left in my local HMV. Despite what you hear from the RIAA and BPI, a lot of music is still sold this way, and that will continue to be the case. Downloads notwithstanding, people like to own stuff, and I think you'll find that Amazon still shifts one or two CD's.

WRT Microshaft, while I look forward deeply to the schadenfreude of their almost inevitable capitulation to Sony, you can't blame them for their statement. Think of the result if they had confirmed that they were making plans for BD? It would be a self-fulfilling prophecy and the headlines would all read 'MS ditches HD-DVD support'!

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Gold badge

Re:Microsoft Takeover

Why would Microsoft do this? they would inherit an organisation with even bigger problems.

Not to mention there would be resistance (they are rivals) and the fact that the anti-trust lawyers wouldn't like it.

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Gates Horns

I wonder....

..if these people who can’t tell the difference between upscaled DVDs and 1080i/1080p sources actually have their players and TVs set up correctly. You know, along the lines of “I can’t tell the difference at all and I’m using a high quality gold-plated scart cable to connect everything up”. The difference to me is night-and-day and my HD TV isn’t especially expensive.

Blu-ray is the ‘original’ HD format, it was created before HD DVD; Toshiba et al are the ones responsible for creating this format war, so all the better that they end up with egg on their faces.

MS could have stuck a HD DVD drive in the 360 but didn’t – why? Because if they had, and HD DVD fails, their product is then hugely devalued relative to it’s biggest market threat (PS3). In other words, they didn’t have enough confidence that it would succeed. Keeping it as an add-on is a smart move as they can just quietly stop producing them if they need to, while using the ‘we want to keep it as a pure gaming platform’ excuse – utter nonsense given it’s ‘media platform’ credentials. If the drive is actually inside the machine it opens up a whole can of worms should things go titsup.

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Conundrum

This makes for an interesting situation.

If Blu-Ray wins then all the Microsoft haters can jump up and down with excitement.

If HD DVD wins the all the Sony haters can jump up and down with excitement.

It's the Microsoft and Sony haters I feel sorry for as they will still be bitter.

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So no Blu-Ray for the 360

Makes sense, the console's core technology is getting on a bit and an expensive redesign would be a nightmare for compatibility and push back that elusive day when the XBox division becomes profitable.

What Microsoft isn't saying is that whatever comes after the 360 won't use Blu-Ray.

Speaking of which, isn't it time for the next-gen console rumour mill to start up again?

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IT Angle

Mine's bigger than yours

When are the industry big boys going to stop play little boys games ("Mine's bigger than yours") and develop single industry standards to make life simpler for consumers?

I hope the next new storage standards comes along quickly and blows HD-DVD and Bluray to the crap house.

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Paris Hilton

Single INdustry Standard

Surely that would mean zero competition? That would mean we wouldn't have companies being pushed to get the latest and greatest gadgets..

Having said that, too much competition is bad - there is a fine line been too much and not enough. I personally think this has been a worth while period of time. The two formats are superb, but one will triumph (maybe..). One thing's for sure - Internet Downloadable HD-sources are years away - especially with these speeds and caps. It would take a monumental push to make it happen. Maybe in ten year, but not in the next few..

Still didn't get my Xmas present of Paris and a vat of Honey... :(

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