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Why Microsoft Won't Have Blu-ray on the Xbox 395

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wtb-final-fantasy-on-360 dept.
Ian Lamont writes "Ever since Toshiba stopped production of HD DVD players, many Xbox 360 owners have been wondering when Microsoft will offer some sort of Blu-ray option for the Xbox 360. The answer: Probably never. Microsoft's product manager for the Xbox 360 has told Reuters that Microsoft is not in talks with Sony or the Blu-ray Association. Why not? The Industry Standard points to HDi, an obscure Microsoft technology that was part of the HD DVD interactivity layer. HDi may be dead on physical media, but it could potentially be applied to other Microsoft HD-compatible technologies such as Xbox Live Arcade and Windows Media Center, and be part of a long-term play to own a big share of the market for HD content delivered over the Internet."
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Why Microsoft Won't Have Blu-ray on the Xbox

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  • by New_Age_Reform_Act (1256010) * on Monday March 24, 2008 @11:56AM (#22845606) Homepage Journal
    Have you ever seen Microsoft Office for Linux (w/o any emulator like Wine)?

    Nobody is ever going to support a product from a direct competitor (or backed by a direct comepetitor) . Microsoft & Sony are direct competitors.
  • Doesn't make sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spleen_blender (949762) on Monday March 24, 2008 @11:58AM (#22845630)
    Profit is profit is profit is profit, so why would they not take the opportunity to have an overpriced blueray disc player accessory for the 360? Doesn't seem like sensible business practices to me.
  • Correction! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cadallin (863437) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:00PM (#22845648)
    No monopolist is ever going to support a product from a direct competitor. Plenty of other companies do so. Toshiba, Sony, Panasonic, and Samsung all directly compete in many of their core markets. Yet they also often adopt and support technologies developed by one another. The difference? None of them are monopolies and accustomed to monopolistic control in a market.
  • HDi (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:06PM (#22845720)
    Can't say I'm the biggest fan of MS technologies, but I will say that I think they did a pretty decent job with HDi (all of the menus, animations, bookmarks and other interactive features on an HD DVD are done using it). I'm sure there are any number of other companies who could've done the same thing, too. But if MS wants to use this technology for downloadable videos, then I'm all for it. It'd be nice to actually have a downloadable video that has menus and chapters and the other niceties that we've grown used to.
  • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:07PM (#22845728)

    Profit is profit is profit is profit, so why would they not take the opportunity to have an overpriced blueray disc player accessory for the 360? Doesn't seem like sensible business practices to me.

    Because one thing that Microsoft does better than almost any other company is look to the future. They seem more than willing to sacrifice $1 billion today (or $20b for Yahoo!) if they think there is a good chance of $2 billion in a few years. For example, I believe last year their video game department finally broke even (don't quote me on that). So, for 7 years, they lost money to develop a new market.*

    Selling a blu-ray player means conceding the format wars. So, even though though the optical media they were using lost, they care more about the format on the discs. So, theypass one the quick buck and hope to get their information recognized a different way.

    *Although the XBox didn't come out until 2002, implying it was only 4 years of losses, development occured in 1999, and possibly earlier.

  • by mycroft822 (822167) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:10PM (#22845768)
    This seems like a bad idea to me. I would assume that a lot of gamers will just buy a PS3 as their BluRay player, in absence of a 360 add on, now that HDDVD is dead. At least that's my most likely course of action. If the PS3 ends up getting a decent selection of games, it is just going to cause MS to lose market share where they previously would have taken all of my gaming money.
  • by Red Samurai (893134) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:12PM (#22845802)
    Microsoft may well take charge of online HD content distribution, but what about games on the 360? Surely those can't be downloaded, as you'd need tons of space, right? If they choose not to adopt Blu-Ray, then how will they keep up with the PS3 in terms of next gen games? By limiting themselves to dual layer DVDs, don't they risk being overtaken by superior offerings on the PS3? We've heard Kojima say that MGS4 can barely fit on a Blu-Ray disk, so that must mean the 360 is screwed, right? In a few years when developers start to fully utilise the vast amounts of space available on Blu-Ray disks, I can forsee the 360 being left behind and fading into obsolescence - unless Microsoft decides to act. Adopting Blu-Ray may seem counterproductive for Microsoft's business interests, but if they want the 360 to survive, I can't really see any other options for them. They're gonna have to support Blu-Ray eventually.
  • by BarryJacobsen (526926) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:13PM (#22845820) Homepage
    I have a 360. I have the HD-DVD drive for my 360 because I want to play HD content (Microsoft clearly recognizes this market segment exists, why else create the HD DVD drive in the first place). Now instead of buying a Microsoft brand 360 Blu-ray Player, I will be buying a Playstation 3. Seems like a brilliant plan on Microsoft's part - if they wanted me to buy a competing product.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:14PM (#22845834) Homepage
    Now that Sony essentially wields monopoly control over all things Blu-ray, you may have noticed that the prices of all things Blu-ray have gone up in non-trivial ways. This would seem to indicate that Sony has jacked up the cost of using Blu-ray technologies in response to their having won the HD war. Sony seems to be characteristically abusive to their 'partners' and ultimately to the consumer. Resources for Blu-ray technology didn't suddenly become scarce, it just didn't have competition and so they decided to raise the prices anticipating increased demand.

    One thing I find interesting is that for the most part, people aren't seeing High definition DVD as anything but an 'extra' at the moment. It's not a base-line functionality requirement for entertaining your family. DVD is still the base-line and few people feel motivated to buying the new stuff yet.

    Meanwhile, Microsoft, is definitely a much more proud operator and probably isn't willing to spend money on the new higher prices. They should have allied themselves with Sony from the beginning to lock in a more affordable rate. They are arrogant, however, and didn't feel the need to do anything but do the opposite of whatever Sony was doing. They gambled and lost. I'm unsure which side of that to be happy for... but I have to say that if Microsoft won its bet on HD-DVD, it would have been better for the consumer. Most of us in the tech community knows and understands how abusive Sony is. Most of us knew to fear what Sony would do if they won. Now it has happened and the fall-out has just begun.

    I would not be surprised to find that Sony will attempt to further leverage their Blu-ray victory for further control of the video media market in ways that are likely to be found illegal in many countries. I would not be surprised to find a new coalition of HD-DVD-interested companies form to create a new, open, set of technologies to compete with Blue-ray and bring that rampaging giant down. (I can't get images of Ultraman and Mecha-Streisand out of my head now... damnit!) I guess it all depends on whether or not Sony knows where to draw the line on its abusive behavior... but I'm going to bet that they don't know how to stop.
  • by tmcfulton (1245028) <thing@place.com> on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:18PM (#22845880)
    Apple just didn't want to miss out on 85% of the computer market. If Microsoft didn't have a near-monopoly, there wouldn't be iTunes for PC.
  • by AJWM (19027) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:29PM (#22846036) Homepage
    OS X is much more of a competitor to Windows than Linux,

    No. You can't (legally or easily) load OS X onto your generic or HP, Dell or Lenovo PC. OS X only runs on Apple hardware, therefore it does not compete with Windows in the non-Apple hardware space. Linux does.
  • by DrXym (126579) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:30PM (#22846056)
    If Microsoft wanted to licence Blu Ray they'd go to the BDA, not to Sony. They'd then be free to implement the standard through any OEM they felt like which could even be Toshiba. After all, Toshiba and Samsung jointly own TSST that makes Blu Ray OEM drives.

    Sure if MS doesn't include a Blu Ray drive, it would mean Sony was deprived of some royalties. But at the same time it would negate the one major advantage the PS3 has over the 360 so they'd lose sales. So I think Sony would be quite happy if MS skipped Blu Ray altogether. It would be just another reason for many people to buy a PS3.

  • by ergo98 (9391) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:32PM (#22846084) Homepage Journal

    No. You can't (legally or easily) load OS X onto your generic or HP, Dell or Lenovo PC. OS X only runs on Apple hardware, therefore it does not compete with Windows in the non-Apple hardware space. Linux does.

    I don't think many people buy hardware based upon the binary "Apple or non-Apply hardware?" decision point. OS X absolutely is a competitor to Windows, regardless of whether it implicitly binds additional decision points.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:35PM (#22846130) Homepage Journal
    I don't think so. The ISPs are not going to want to face Microsoft, Google, Apple, Disney, and Sony. Yes I know that it seems that it is a battle of who can buy the most congressmen but Microsoft, Google, Apple, Disney, and Sony all have deep pockets and they all feel this is a battle they must win.
    If need be Google and Microsoft both have the bucks to become the worlds largest ISPs. They both have the technology base and the motivation if the ISPs get too nasty with them.
    Also the cable companies are hated. They are hated by the public at large. Congress know this so it may be a battle that they are willing to take on since Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Disney's money is just as green as Comcast's.
  • Re:HDi (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:36PM (#22846148)

    It'd be nice to actually have a downloadable video that has menus and chapters and the other niceties that we've grown used to.
    Including niceties like unskippable FBI warnings and adverts...

    I agree that having additional functionality (soundtracks, subtitles, chapter icons, menu system) grouped with video files can be great... however a raw video file has the advantage of being easier to play on a myriad of devices and being under the user's control.

    I know nothing about HDi, so I don't know to what extent it locks out the user from accessing the internal data directly... but I really hate data containers that companies use to force user-hostile features (like unskippable content), and so I'm wary in this case.
  • Re:Correction! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sawbones (176430) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:37PM (#22846168)

    No monopolist is ever going to support a product from a direct competitor...The difference? None of them are monopolies and accustomed to monopolistic control in a market.
    That's just a bit of hyperbole there, don't you think? Microsoft was part of the list HD DVD backers - who's members [hddvdprg.com] contain more than a few direct competitors (Corel competes as directly as possible with Office). Nothing is quite as cut and dry as you're making it out - after all, sony still makes computers that run windows, don't they?
  • When it comes time for MS to make a Blu-Ray drive, they will go to the BDA for the license. However, let's face it, it's going to be Sony trying to get them to come over.
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:45PM (#22846276) Homepage

    I saw that. I say... wrong. The prices went up. That's economics. There are two resons.

    1. The closest substitute good (HD-DVD players/software) is now gone
    2. Development

    People were pushing the players at a loss (Toshiba, et. all too, from my understanding). Now that the pressure is gone, the prices have moved from the dumping range to the "possibly sustainable" range.

    I've seen people complain about the new players being more expensive than the old ones, but that always happens when the new players have more features (BD-Live and all it's costs like Ethernet, flash storage, etc) than the old ones.

    They're not "leveraging a monopoly", they are just not competing at/near a loss anymore. You can't leverage a Blu-Ray monopoly, because there is no market share for it right now. DVDs will be the "monopoly" in the video market for a few years yet.

    I would not be surprised to find a new coalition of HD-DVD-interested companies form to create a new, open, set of technologies to compete with Blue-ray and bring that rampaging giant down.

    Sarcasm: Yes. That worked so well the last time. I'm sure they'll try it again with yet another incompatible format.

  • I don't think Microsoft cares that Blu-Ray is Sony's standard, just that it's not Microsoft's standard.

    From there, the decision to forget about a high-definition player add-on for this generation makes sense. The attach rate for the HD-DVD drive wasn't very good (typical for a console add-on), but Microsoft was willing to take that hit for the sake of promoting HD-DVD. (Not to mention keeping up with the Playstation 3 Joneses.) A Blu-Ray movie player for 360 would be just another console accessory that doesn't sell enough to justify the cost. (See also: Sega CD)

    XBox "720", if it uses an optical drive at all, will probably use Blu-Ray out of necessity. As a baseline for the platform, it will be far easier to justify that cost as upfront R&D.

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:45PM (#22846288)
    Microsoft NEVER go with a pre-existing stadard as-is. Its like they feel the need to have their own customized version of everything for some reason. I guess they feel it gives them control of something.
    Consequently even if Microsoft licenced Blu-Ray, I'd bet they'd change parts of it somehow to make it their own in some way that would be incompatible with everything else.

  • by AJWM (19027) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:46PM (#22846296) Homepage
    Years later, Xbox is pretty much the center of the console market.

    No it ain't, unless you're defining that market as the subset of the real console market focused on games that could as easily by played on a PC. Probably the real center of the market (in unit sales) is the Nintendo Wii with its innovative controller. (Just checked online [blorge.com]; February '08 sales for Wii were 432,000 vs Xbox 360's 254,600).

    The games available for the Wii are attracting people that would never consider your traditional console games (especially not first-person shooters). There was something in the newspaper recently about bowling leagues of all things built up around the Wii's virtual bowling game, made up of the kind of AARP crowd that Xbox doesn't cater to.
  • Re:Why blu-ray? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AbsoluteXyro (1048620) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:56PM (#22846460)
    Because standard def looks like poop after having seen so much HD content.
  • by Geoff (968) on Monday March 24, 2008 @01:12PM (#22846730) Homepage
    So you're saying Microsoft wouldn't put out a product on a competitor platform, like, say, Microsoft Office on Mac OS X?
  • by AJWM (19027) on Monday March 24, 2008 @01:20PM (#22846880) Homepage
    OS X absolutely is a competitor to Windows

    Only in the initial purchase of hardware, which is not the context of the discussion. The great(n)-grandparent post wondered why Microsoft would create a version of Office for Mac but not for Linux.

    Once the Mac sale is made, making Office available for it increases the potential pool of Office sales without hurting Windows sales. Making Office available for Linux could have a severe impact on Windows sales. If it were possible to install OS X on a (non-Apple) PC that might otherwise run Windows, Microsoft might well reconsider making Office available for it (especially if this could cut into the pre-install market, but Jobs is unlikely to ever allow that).
  • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Monday March 24, 2008 @01:24PM (#22846932)

    Sure, why not. Except for lost or damaged discs, and the fact that every review is going to say the PS3 version is better because you don't have to change discs mid-game.
    Given the alternative, I'd rather have multiple discs than nothing at all...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 24, 2008 @01:35PM (#22847088)
    You appear to have real difficulty following a simple thread of discussion.
  • by ChocolateNinj4 (967778) on Monday March 24, 2008 @01:36PM (#22847116)
    But the difference is that Apple is still pretty much a hardware company. They make their money by people buying their hardware, not using their software. They don't care if you buy a Mac then install Windows on it, or buy an iPod and install a different OS, because it doesn't really hurt their business. Also, the whole iTunes on Windows/MS Office on OS X argument isn't really the point--that is looking at the possibility of Microsoft using Blu-ray on the 360 from Sony's perspective. In that case, it's good for business because you show users of the competitor's product that your product is good, too, perhaps getting them to switch to your product to use more of your other good products. The difference is that for iTunes, Apple doesn't need Microsoft's permission, they just have to make the program and make it available. Then maybe some people on Windows will use iTunes and say "Hey, I like the way Apple does stuff" then possibly switch to a Mac the next time they buy a computer. (And yes, that is unlikely, but iTunes is also Apple's main money-making program, and so having it on Windows is making them money.)
  • by mweather (1089505) on Monday March 24, 2008 @01:38PM (#22847152)
    And Microsoft wants to miss out on 100% of the HD movie market? They're not dumb enough to think downloadable content is going to be a competitor any time soon. And if consumers buy separate blu-ray players, they'll buy the cheapest one: the PS3. And that cuts into 360 game sales.
  • by LordNimon (85072) on Monday March 24, 2008 @01:39PM (#22847162)
    Renting an HD movie from Live Marketplace is almost ten times as expensive as renting a Blu-Ray movie from Netflix, and the downloaded movie is more compressed than the Blu-Ray version (6GB vs. 20GB). Microsoft will have to significantly lower the price of HD rentals, to about $1 each, to make it competitive.

    Plus, the Microsoft Points purchase system is way too clunky. You have to buy the points in advance, and you can buy them only in multiples of 500 or 1600. Since HD movies cost 480 Points, you're always going to have wasted Points.
  • by TeknoDragon (17295) on Monday March 24, 2008 @01:47PM (#22847292) Journal
    I'm surprised the OP didn't catch on to this.

    Java's inclusion in the BluRay menu system means forcing Microsoft back into implementing a Java VM on a new platform. Let's hope that none of the Sun v Microsoft legal agreement prevents them from doing so.

    Not that MS seems to be doing much to capture the developer market (and it wouldn't take much effort to do better than Sun in this regard... I even find the Apache community lacking in some aspects).
  • by tempestdata (457317) on Monday March 24, 2008 @02:03PM (#22847614)
    I think what he was trying to say was, companies bow down and embrace competitor's products when it makes financial sense. Just like Apple didn't want to miss out on 85% of the computer market, Microsoft may not want to miss out on % of the HD movie market.
  • Re:Eventually ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Monday March 24, 2008 @02:10PM (#22847752) Homepage
    There's absolutely no denying that HD-DVD and Blu-Ray look considerably better than just an upscaled DVD. The question is, are retailers going to be able to convince that there is a big enough difference that warrents a couple thousand dollars to get started, as well as increased prices every time they buy movies.

    People sometimes say "well, it worked with DVD and VHS!" That's because DVD was an ENTIRELY different technology...no rewinding, perfect still images, clear and focused slow-mo, chapter selections, extra features, multiple language and audio, etc.

    Blu-Ray, even with its "internet enabled extra features", is at its core nothing more than a prettier version of DVD. It's not nearly the leap that VHS to DVD was, and as such I think it's going to be much much harder to convince folks to switch (ESPECIALLY considering how much cheaper DVD is, both for the player and the movies.)
  • Screw Blu-Ray (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mizchief (1261476) on Monday March 24, 2008 @02:16PM (#22847866)
    I'm hard-pressed to spend any money on Blu-Ray technology due to Sony's actions. The $300 million they spent to bribe Warner Bros god knows how much on others, should have been used to cut the cost of players and media, then they could have won the Format war following free market ideals instead of underhanded deals that are now requiring Sony to jack up the prices on everything Blu-Ray to make up the diffrence. I would really like to see the Justice department go after Sony for these pratices. If M$ gets hit with anti-trust violations because they included a useful web browser integrated with thier OS, how does Sony get away with out right bribery to force out the competition?
  • by dl_zero (933977) on Monday March 24, 2008 @02:34PM (#22848194)
    No, but I have seen Microsoft Office for Mac Os...The only reason they don't sell it for linux is because they figure people who use Linux are smart enough to use openoffice. They know some Mac owners will be stupid enough to pay for an office suite because, well, they are Mac owners...
  • Too bad ! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mastergryne (1261496) on Monday March 24, 2008 @02:53PM (#22848500)
    Too bad it turned that way. the prices on bluray already has gone up.
  • by Sandbags (964742) on Monday March 24, 2008 @03:34PM (#22849010) Journal
    Well, Steam works, but keep in mind, even big games are only 1-2GB (massive ones may be 4 or 5). Also, you only DL games periodically, tend not to share them often with family, and don't expect to start playing one 5 minutes after clicking download... Also, they have to be installed, which eliminates any traveling options (airport, car, etc) unless you DL'd them in advance. It's just not as convenient as whipping out a disk and inserting it, and the games/movies I use most would already be on my HDD as instaleld/copied items or as virtual disk images.

    This is why I say, HD video downloads work from local cable services across broadband chanels, as part of a VoD or rental service. Direct streaming for keeps, not likely a reality. If one assumed that I could start this now, purchase and download a fair number of movies over time (say 1 per month) then in 3 years, I'd need something akin to 1TB just to store those flicks on a single PC (assuming 25GB ea, fairly average for a BD movie with HD audio). If my drive crashed and I had to re-download that, over an 8Mbit connection and assuming maximum throughput, it would take 10.5 days to re-download that content! Even assuming I'd be willing to dedicate 50% of my bandwidth to that, i'd be looking at almost a month to re-download just 36 lost movies. Heck, just to DL a single new movie at 25GB would be 7 hours if my math is right... (25GB X 1024MB X8bits /8Mbit / 60sec / 60min = 7 hours.) "Streaming" a movie over 8Mbit really isn't an option, and 40Mbit connections are not available in the USA yet... ...and I'm not even talking about how to back up a 1TB data set periodically that's growing at over 250GB per year... and wait until 2011 when 4X HD is a big hit. 100GB per movie? not even if 1TB drives were under $50 would I considder that. Now lets see you Defrag that, or do a virus scan. Call me next week...
  • Re:Eventually ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday March 24, 2008 @03:51PM (#22849208) Homepage
    People sometimes say "well, it worked with DVD and VHS!" That's because DVD was an ENTIRELY different technology...no rewinding, perfect still images, clear and focused slow-mo, chapter selections, extra features, multiple language and audio, etc.

    While I do believe that all those features are ultimately why DVD was seen as worth the upgrade, it's also worth pointing out that it did look better than VHS without you having to buy anything but the DVD player.

    No real new features except a superior picture, and you only get that if you buy a brand new television too. That's a much tougher sell no matter how you slice it.
  • by mweather (1089505) on Monday March 24, 2008 @04:41PM (#22849758)
    Downloads are a novelty that will require multi-billion dollar infrastructure investments to make feasible on a large scale. Blu-Ray will outgrow DVD long, long before that ever happens. That makes Blu-Ray is 100% of the HD market.
  • by zippthorne (748122) on Monday March 24, 2008 @05:22PM (#22850196) Journal
    But Nintendo has the advantage of having never sold the Wii at a loss. They could put out an upgraded machine right now without having real losses (pro-forma "losses" though)

    In other words, they're well positioned to be the first ones out of the gate for the next generation of home theater / video game equipment, and they won't have to worry about figuring out which disk format to back.*

    Now, whether they actually take advantage of that position remains to be seen. But they've by no means screwed themselves out of anything with their design decisions regarding the Wii.

    * of course, if it takes Blu-Ray as long to overtake DVD as DVD took to overtake VHS, USB thumbdrive movies will be well within possibility. Remember, this jump was a big jump data-wise, but High definition is pretty well defined for the next decade or so: 50 gig is going to be plenty for any storage medium for some time, but it's also going to get much easier to achieve. In that sense, Blu-Ray is a disaster. We should've gone with HD-DVD as an interim format (well, it was supposed to be cheaper), knowing that it would be replaced fairly quickly by something much more durable, storable, reliable, and possibly even cheaper.

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