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back to article No one needs Blu-ray, says Microsoft exec

"Who needs Blu-ray?" asks Stephen McGill, the head of Microsoft UK's Xbox operation. No one, is his implicit answer. Interviewed recently by website Xbox 360 Achievements, McGill said in response to a question centred on the console's use of DVD storage: "Blu-ray is going to be passed by as a format. People have moved through …

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Anonymous Coward

Oh dear

Get burned buying into HD-DVD did you?

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FAIL

Haven't they been wrong before?

I can't see streaming being the main delivery vehicle for the mass market. Putting a movie in is very much ingrained for the average consumer and far simpler than setting up all the hardware and connections for streaming.

Beside, streaming HD content is like listening to music with those cheap Apple headphones. Stream HD audio in more than 2 channels? Unpossible!

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WTF?

And what is fair usage?

My ISP gives me a reasonable 50 GB per month allowance for data download.

Last I checked, a 'Blu-ray quality' film, i.e. an actual Blu-ray rather than some heavily compressed stream version, can be anything up to 40 GB or so. With my 6.5 Mbps download speed this would take approximately 14 hours to 'stream' with my download maxed out for the entire period if my calculation is correct.

1 GB = 1024 MB = 8192 Mb

8192 / 6.5 = 1260.31 seconds to download 1 MB

1260.31 / 3600 = 0.35 hours to download 1MB

40 * 0.35 = 14.0034 hours to download their 'Blu-ray quality' stream

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Bronze badge

As far as I can tell...

...your calculations are off (and a little convoluted) and you may be wildly exaggerating the file size of a film. After a little bit of research it appears most Blu-Ray films (stripped of everything except 1 video stream and a 5.1 audio stream) at their original bit-rate weigh in between 16GB and 24GB. Furthermore I also think you are getting your megabytes (MB) and megabits (Mb) confused or have fallen for the ISP trick of confusing megabytes and megabits by using "Meg". But, for the sake of clarity, we'll use your 40GB file size:

// 1GB = 1,024MB

1,024MB * 40 = 40,960MB

// 6.5Mbps (MegaBITS) = .65MBps (MegaBYTES) (= 650KBps) [1]

40,960MB / .65MBps = 63015.38 seconds

63015.38 / 3600 = 17.50 hours

[1] if your line really was 6.5 megaBYTES per second (6,500kbps) it would be advertised, by ISPs, as 65 Meg broadband. Currently Virgin Media's top-of-the-range offering is 50Meg (or 5 Megabytes per second, or 5000kbps).

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Stop

(untitled)

I have a 50mbit VM connection - I've maxed it out at about 47mbps, and averages about 42 in real use.

8192 / 42 == 195.05 seconds to download 1GB

195.05 / 60 == 3.25 minutes to download 1GB

40 * 3.25 == 130 minutes to stream a 90-minute movie.

I think all of the above commentards suggesting 30mbps will see a VERY juddery stream!

Still, I think if you were considering watching a movie, and you knew what you want, the 40-60 minutes of pre-buffering needed to make it play without stopping would be akin to the time taken to go to Blockbuster or something like that.

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FAIL

So, what you got is the same answer?

Not sure what your point was. other than a rather excellent strawman with regards to 'megs'. My download speed is 6.5 Mbps = mega bits per second (as I stated)

You seem to have got the same answer as me, only I never converted at 10 bits to the byte favouring the more usual 8 bits to the byte. Hence the time you got was 25% longer (or 3.5 hours on top of 14 = 17.5... Hooray for maths!).

I do appreciate that when you factor in packet overheads you lose a few bits to the byte.

Also, I stated "up to" around 40 GB for film size. This was based on my rip of Watchmen with as you state only one audio track, and it came in at 37 GB.

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WTF?

Uh?

What, seriously!?!

So anyone can get 1080p quality video streamed can they?

No, they can't. Not yet anyway and not for a while. Plus, the massively over subscribed ISPs will quickly dispel any notion that such a service is reliable as their fair use policy and trafic shaping rules will no doubt render this stuff next to useless if it all went mainstream.

Plenty of life in optical storage yet.

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yeah, right

At the moment, my DSL can't even stream a true DVD-quality source without doing a whole bunch of buffering in advance. I don't know of anyone who can even remotely stream a BR - that would require the ability to download, say, 25 gig in two hours? As of now, I might be able to download a BR in a day or so. If I'm lucky, and if I don't mind my bandwidth being saturated (making browsing painful, preventing any online gaming, etc etc) for the duration.

The speed of internet connections, especially for those who don't live in the middle of a large city, has not been increasing so fast that we can reasonably predict most people will be able to stream 1080p content any time soon.

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FAIL

as a consumer

I have to disagree, 1st I don't have the bandwidth to stream or download large files, I even let youtube download load in the background if I *REALLY* wanted to watch the clip. I am sure that I am not the only one and their are many in the world like me. 2nd many of those *digital* stores refuse to sale to me because I don't live in the country that they sale in (zune just came to selected countries other then the USofA), so even if I do get the bandwidth to download or stream... you guys won't sale to me.

Statement like "no one wants Blu-ray" coming from someone who is a decision maker in the market is really worrying. This statement does ignore a large percentage of the world just because they live in another country or can't afford the bandwidth. it also ignoring people who love to have the physical media.

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Silver badge

Liar liar

"We offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay. So, who needs Blu-ray?"

Unless they are delivering 20-40Mbps then claiming instant blu ray quality is an utter lie. Even if they were delivering that, which I doubt, people would have to be subscribed to a FIOS with unlimited bandwidth to benefit. I would be surprised if their content was running higher than 10Mbps and probably its far less.

Perhaps the service is okay for video on demand or streaming but you'd have to be stupid to purchase anything from it to keep. Microsoft have already killed PlaysForSure key servers (thus locking purchased content to one device forever) so who's to say they won't do it again.

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Bronze badge

Skipped a Few Steps There

No, I don't need a Blu-Ray disc drive on my computer.

Which is beside the point. Contrary to what a Microsoft millionaire believes, I don't run everything through my computer. My Blu-Ray player is attached to my television, thank you very much.

Yeah, eventually content that people don't want to physically own will come through the intertubes. But according to real economists (not some executive with an axe to grind), that will probably be in eight to ten years. My television and DVD player are fine with that.

(Note also the assumption that everyone upgrades at the same rate and at the same time, but that could be an article all in itself.)

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Won't games eventually be constrained by DVD?

I thought I had heard of PS3 games going beyond the (what is it 9GB?) limitation of Dual Layer DVDs. Seems like at some point this would start limiting the Game Developers and they might have to start making neutered-content versions of their games for XBox.

Am I wrong?

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or....

maybe just distribute on more than one disk..... oh wait, they already do!

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Happy

I don't own an XBox

...so thanks for clearing that up.

Seems like it would be a pain in the butt to need to juggle multiple disks just to play one game... maybe not(?)

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MJI
Silver badge

Already are

PS3 exclusives do not care, Uncharted 2 is about 25GB and God Of War is supposed to be about 50GB.

A few cross platform games are limited on the XBox version eg the last Final Fantasy

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Metered broadband?

I think all the while the average home user is fleeced by ISPs telling them that a quota of 5gb or less per month is normal usage, downloading or streaming content will not be taken up by the masses.

To be honest, I have unmetered broadband and I still only stream the odd content from iPlayer, I still buy films on DVD and the occasional bluray. At least then I can watch it repeatedly without paying over and over, can buy it cheap in the sales and lend/give it to others when I'm done with it.

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Bronze badge

Doesn't add up

I already have multiple xbox 360 games that come on more than one DVD.

eg Forze 3 comes on 2 DVDs and Final Fantasy 13 comes on 3 DVDs.

On films, Blurays cost the same to rent from Lovefilm as DVDs, so I always go for the Bluray option if it's available (and watch it on the PS3.)

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Silver badge

meaningless quality statment

"We offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly" BS!

Sure you could put a compressed all to hell video on a Blu-ray disc and that would be "blu-ray quality". He is not really saying that the quality is anything like what you typically get on a blu-ray disc, forget the maximum quality.

Remember MS are the ones that thought a dual layer DVD + WMV was the way to go for HD.

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FAIL

Hmmm...

"We offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay. So, who needs Blu-ray?"

Having viewed a number of these "Full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality" streams on XBox live, I'd can only conclude that no-one at Microsoft has ever seen a Blu-ray disc.

The difference is plain to see.

I'll stick with Blu-ray thanks.

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WTF?

emps new clothes

This is just a tactic by the media corporate interests to distract people from the underlying problems of surrendering all control of your purchases to their whim. When I buy a CD/DVD/Bluray I get some media and it last for a long time. I have some CDs that have succumbed to bit rot, but hey. If I surrender my media interests to Microsoft/Apple/Sony/whoever then they get to choose when and if I am allowed to access it.

What happens when a company dies ? When they decide you are a security risk (see Microsoft blocking XBox360 owners they meely suspect of hacking their consoles) without legal recourse ?

Without adequate legal safeguards in place, this is a dangerous path of conflict of interest to allow these global monopolies to walk down...

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Gold badge
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HD Video

It seems that all the camcorders are HD nowadays, and every week new still cameras are replaceing old models and have HD video included.

So if I video my nephew's school play, I have to buy server space so that his parents can watch the video streaming over the internet?

I'm sorry but I think that the gentleman from Microsoft is off. I think that bluray writers will become common long before people are able to stream their HD content. When bluray writers are common, readers will be essential. I was looking at bluray writers last night to back-up some photos (they're a lot easier to browse than DAT tapes!) Not much more than £100. I think I paid almost that for my first DVD-Rom drive, and certainly more than that for my first DVD writer.

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Anonymous Coward

strange

Its so very strange, therefore, that microsoft actually bothered supporting blu-ray on that minority operating system they sell, whats its name? Oh yes, Windows.

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Anonymous Coward

This is the company that (supposedly) said...

No one will need filenames longer than 8.3.

No one will need more than 640k memory.

The Internet is just a fad.

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FAIL

Discs were broken by the designers!

The companies designing DVD and then HD-DVD and Bluray all made the same mistake - that hardware and discs should be tied to a region. This massively put me off buying DVDs, to the extent that I don't really watch movies at all now. The other formats followed this up.

So what's the problem? Well, if you travel, you can't help but notice that when you get to the USA and want to go to the shops and buy a DVD, it won't play. Move to Hong Kong, same thing happens. You are completely put off the digital-disc experience by the restrictions in place which stop you legally buying movies/TV shows/etc and watching them.

The only solution I came up with was to buy a few films/TV shows/whatever that I like and rip them to my computer, then I can carry them round and watch them. I'm limited to what I can watch, but I've got used to that. It's better than spending money on a coffee mat and watching repeats whilst abroad accurately mirrors the UK telly-watching experience.

With this in mind, the Apple play is obvious - tie the hardware limitations to the person and the account - the person can travel and still access things in iTunes (I believe, but then I've never seen any reason to use that either) and control the access. That's what Microsoft wants to do too - control the access, capture the dollars. That's what Windows Vista was all about - engineering in the technology to lock down content and make it easier for them to make money. It's also why it sucked - there was nothing in it for the people they wanted to buy it.

Basically, it's all bollocks. They want to lock you in, make you pay for things repeatedly and cripple your computers and gaming devices so you can't do a damn thing about it. Same thing appears to be being played out with eBook readers.

For me, the only solution is not to play,

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Thumb Up

Agrred, Blu-ray spec is too restrictive

HD DVD also required the ability for a managed copy. This fit well in the media center/xbox space to create a media library within media center without have a DVD Changer. Blu-ray allows for managed copy, but doesn't require it. Based on that alone, I don't blaim them for not wanting to support it.

Since Apple refuses to do any DRM, you won't see Apple supporting blu-ray either.

I enjoy my 1080p streaming from xbox live.. personally, I think $4.50/month is cheap for the services they provide.

You don't need MS' wireless card. You can use power over ethernet. Next, you don't have to use MS branded memory cards. Finally, you can use AA's if you don't want the rechargable kits. If you feel it is price gouging (PS3 accessories aren't any cheaper), then simply don't buy them. There are alternatives.

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Silver badge

Since Apple refuses to do any DRM,...

Since Apple refuses to do any DRM, you won't see Apple supporting blu-ray either.

I think you need to go check the videos on iTunes... :P

Or did you mean to say they don't do any DRM but their own?

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hmm

I've got to be honest, if the iTunes store had HD movie downloads (to own, not rent) I'd not be buying blu-rays at all. as it is, I have about 60 of them. I've stopped buying dvd's altogether.

About 75% of my media purchases now are TV series'. All from iTunes and in HD if available. The other 25% are movies, mostly on blu-ray, but the rest again from iTunes.

TBH i'm not amused with everyone pushing video streaming as the way to go. I'd rather pay for something and own it. I tend to watch stuff over and over, might be years apart, but nevertheless, I still watch it again.

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WTF?

Nonesense!

"People have moved through from DVDs to digital downloads and digital streaming"

This is only true if you look at stuff like Bit Torrent.

But assuming that the MS guy wasn't refrering to BT, who can name a legit video streaming service (ie, probably one that screws you down to the ground with DRM and charges a fortune) that they use more than a pirate one?

Nope? Didn't think so.

You Tube? Hardly DVD quality, never mind HD!

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I'd concur....

the market for pc's & macs. I just do not think the demand is there for BR devices in that kit.

But I think for consoles, especially as games get bigger, the BR is going to be a great advantage.

To be honest, part of my problem is a generational one. I prefer tangible objects when purchasing something, paying for something you can neither see or touch (in a physical sense) i find a tad bizarre (and I'm not that old -early 30's)

I wonder if Broadband Britain is capable of streaming 1080p movies to thousands of users?

I'm cynical at best and I still believe there is some value for physical media yet.

and no, I dont carry a floppy round - just in case :D

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Anonymous Coward

Multi disk games

Mass Effect 2 already comes on 2 disks, and did PGR4 get limited to fit it on to one disk?

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I'm skipping BR

I do buy BR discs for franchises that I want to support financially. But I don't own a BR player. I just download the MKV off usenet and watch that through my set-top media player. The BR disc never leaves the package, it just goes into a box in the basement.

I don't see any reason to buy a BR player. It's much more convenient to have all the stuff I own on a RAID NAS box, instantly accessible via remote.

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Silver badge
Stop

@AC

Current broadcast 1080P video in the UK runs at 8Mbits/sec. Clearly you're in cloud cuckoo land yourself if you don't think that average broadband speeds will be beyond that in 10 years. We've already got 50Mbit cable and 40Mbit FTTC is being rolled out over the next couple of years. Even current ADSL2+ systems can manage 8Mbits/sec out to 3KM from the exchange.

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@Steve Todd

Sorry to burst your bubble but the UK doesn't do broadcast 1080p only 1080i.

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8Mbit/s eh?

Could you come and tell my internet connection that, please?

I'm on ADSL2+, 2.2KM from the exchange and on a very, very good day, I can just about squeeze 4Mbit/s out of it.

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No title

"Current broadcast 1080P video in the UK runs at 8Mbits/sec"

Yes, and it looks like shit. AVC and VC-1 on BR average around 30Mbit/s, perhaps a little less, and looks superb. With BR you also get uncompressed hi-res multi-channel audio at anything between 4Mbit/s and 8, sometimes more.

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FAIL

I think he's very wrong

We are nowhere near having the necessary ISP performance to stream data in such quantities. Do that with Virgin in its current guise and you will end up capped with slow speeds by the time you have a DVD's worth of data downloaded. That's unlikely to improve any time soon - in fact it's likely to get much worse.

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Gates Horns

Yeah, right....

"We offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay. So, who needs Blu-ray?"

Erm, anyone who can't get 100Mbit broadband? I can't watch iplayer without it stuttering when the world is online at 9pm, so i can't get blu ray quality instantly (unless i put in a blu ray disc i just bought).

I realise that compression has come on a long way, but the size of movies and games these days means you still have to have some practical medium for certain things. You can't buy your missus the box set of sex and the city and wrap it up all nice with a bow, if all the box contains is a piece of paper with a URL download link on it.

I agree that Blu-ray is not necessary for some (and i myself don't tend to buy them), but i don't suggest that everyone is in the same position as me.

I suspect it's more sour grapes than honest heartfelt sentiment from the nobend from M$.

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Streaming......not yet

I, like a previous poster, struggle even with iplayer on my current broadband connection. In fact my area has JUST had fibre installed although I cannot yet get it through my provider (it's still undergoing the last few checks before going live). If that proves to provide a decent stable speed then I might begin using it more often, but I suspect that at peak times it will still be slow as unfortunately most of the country tend to settle down to watch films at around the same time of the day.

While my own personal connection might be fine, I think the countries backbone infrastructure will still struggle for a good few years yet. And after all, who wants to be dictated to as to when they can view full HD content according to how busy the net is?

They just need to reduce the price of Blu-Ray titles to be approximately the same as the DVD equivalent. After all, the same work went into making the film, it's just the marginally more expensive media which might add an extra pound or so onto the production cost.

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Flame

"So, who needs Blu-ray?"

Let's see ...

1) People without broadband

2) People with limited internet access speeds

3) People with small bandwidth caps

4) People who want to own products rather than having most of their ownership rights taken away

5) People who share their broadband connection with other people

6) People who enjoy the extras and packaging that comes with shiny discs

7) People who don't want to use Microsoft's offerings

8) People who want some assurance their movie will still be available to watch in ten year's time

I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons why for some, 1080P streaming and digital "ownership" of movies aren't preferable to discs.

On the other hand, who needs Kinect?

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Of course they won't offer a "defunct" format

They (MS & Apple) are banking heavily on *being* the next format.

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FAIL

Nonsense.

Rubbish. The UK simply hasn't the infrastructure to support this sort of content on a mass scale and likely won't for years.

As it is, most ISPs seem to struggle to stream the sort of content people are watching now, I'm supposed to have a 10Mb connection but often I'm lucky if I get 1Mb at peak times, how on earth am I supposed to download and watch a high-def movie?

And not only that, for all this talk about MP3s and streaming movies and blahblahblah, I would STILL much rather have a physical product in my hand as opposed to a file that can only be used when and where the download provider says.

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Another case of saying it will make it so

Or so they hope

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Oh really?

They said the same thing about how much memory a PC would need.

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FAIL

M$ Fail again....

what bollocks.

it takes me 2 hours to download a 4gb file on my 10Mb virgin line. even youtube can be flakey at peak times!!!!

it will be another 5-6 years before we see lines capable of 25GB in 90 mins for all. give me a disk i own over a digital download that might crap out half way through. plus, every time i see a film i have to redownload it?!?!?! and i guess sony want to charge the same to stream (probably compressed without trueHD/master audio) as to own the film anyway - just like sony does with its download movies.

im sure ISPs are happy that M$ will be making pots of cash out of their lines when they need to upgrade everyone to gigabit to the home.

enough of this licensing shite. i want a physical copy i can own. especially if they want to charge the same price! physical copy = collateral. if you download you have something that is worthless.

its M$ holding back games now with the silly little DVD games when ps3 owners have loads of space left on our disks for HD cutscenes and sound etc. i want proper HD gaming - thats why i have a nice big HD TV, HD AVR amp and B&W speakers.

@"The question is, will there come a time when an Xbox game requires more capacity than a dual-layer DVD can provide but there isn't yet the bandwidth to pull down the excess over the net?" - been and gone. a lot of games are severely hampered by M$' disk restrictions.

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People want choice

People want choice. They don't want to be told how to view movies.

There are times when I want to stream movies. There are other times when I may not have an internet connection where I would want to play a physical disk.

Microsoft has always been a company that doesn't enjoy giving their customers a choice.

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Physical media will always have a place

For any film, album etc, I will always want to own a copy and be able to view it as I wish and whenever I wish. I've very little interest in merely being granted temporary access to it, and knowing that that access may be revoked at any time. I would imagine that most tech-savvy users would feel the same.

This rules out any streaming service. Most users won't have the capacity to store large amounts of HD video electronically, let alone with any sort of backup (which a physical medium provides nicely for those who do store everything electronically), so downloads are also unsuitable.

The only remaining option is distribution on physical media. Technically, Blu-ray is sufficient, although whether it survives in another matter. There's always an incentive for those who didn't back it to attempt to sideline it, then push something new in the future.

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MJI
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Thumb Up

And here

There is something about owning the media rather downloading. The fun of picking up a disc and putting into the device you want.

That is part of the experience. Along with looking at the cover notes ect

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Is there demand for Blu-Ray?

Yes there is.

Is there enough demand to make it worth the hassle and licence fees of paying it when you can use an alternative distribution system instead?

Probably not.

Personally, I'm not fussed. I can actually see it more as a game issue than a film issue, but the rise of Steam suggests to me that buying games in hardcopy will only remain common while publishers can't switch to a full digital-distribution-only model. Cutting out the cost of getting games media pressed, then boxed, then distributed all over the place? Gee, I wonder why that would appear...

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FAIL

Microsoft

... said the internet was irrelevant. Hence, Netscape had early success.

I can just get 2MBit/s. I live 3 km from my exchange.

Yes, one day, when everyone has 50Mbit/s to their home, Blu Ray may be irrelevant. Not today.

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Paris Hilton

Have to agree, hate to agree with MS over anything, mind

Blu-ray is just a short-lived interstitial format between DVD and streaming (the Steam model). Whether you love or hate this prospect, it's true.

I haven't bothered with bluray player for films, as nothing I care about has been made available in a print that would justify needing the extra res (on my nice 1080p telly). I can see that it's nice to have the extra space for a console game- though it's cripplingly slow for this, hence the compulsory installs on PS3.

It makes sense for Sony to include it, of course, as they hold most of the cards, can't blame them. However, it's really only a pyrrhic victor of the most recent round of optical format wars, and not long for this world.

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