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

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 Kelz ( 611260 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @11:59AM (#22845642)
    In the console market. Sony makes a crapload of other things, and Microsoft's presumably main business is it's OS and Office software. Always seems weird to me that companies can get so huge as to be direct partners with a company in one division and direct competitors with the same company in another.
  • by jfbilodeau ( 931293 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:01PM (#22845656) Homepage
    Because they want to push their own standard.
  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:07PM (#22845722) Homepage

    Development costs, testing costs, update costs (look how many updates the Blu-Ray player on the PS3 has received), shipping costs, inventory costs, shelf space costs, etc.

    I always figured that MS rushed the 360 HD-DVD so that they could have something out there to help counter the Blu-Ray install base generated by the PS3. Something to give their HDi some installed base to compete with the Java on Blu-Ray.

    It doesn't surprise me at all that they wouldn't make a Blu-Ray drive. Even without that point, an HD drive doesn't add to the console's value as much as it did when all players were $600+. As players get cheaper, the reason to buy the add-on over a stand along player drops.

  • by spleen_blender ( 949762 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:07PM (#22845724)
    But their standard is completely dead now it seems, and to keep pushing for it is incomprehensible. I mean, they have to be more intelligent than that, right?! Although, as usual I'll expect my assumptions on the level of intelligence of others to be sadly disproven.
  • Live marketplace (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tonyreadsnews ( 1134939 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:07PM (#22845726)
    Ummm, because like others have said, the war is not over. Blu-ray discs still have to compete with digital distribution. Even Gates mentioned at CES. They've partnered with quite a few places (One is Disney!) so they will likely pursue downloads through their Live marketplace, including HD content before trying to license something from a competing console.
  • by LBArrettAnderson ( 655246 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:07PM (#22845732)
    OS X is much more of a competitor to Windows than Linux, and last time I checked (on friday), my work computer (an iMac running Leopard) had a current version of MS Office on it.
  • by keineobachtubersie ( 1244154 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:08PM (#22845744)
    The media the games come on is irrelevant, Nintendo proved success is possible with an unusual format.

    Microsoft also has stated they are trying to move toward a content-download type system, so the physical media would, again, be irrelevant.

    As others have said, there may be a standalone Blu-ray player in the future, but I think MS thinks they simply don't need it. And Ballmer himself has said no Blu-ray for Xbox, of course that's not really worth much and could change with the market.

    http://www.crn.com/digital-home/206903456 [crn.com]
  • by erexx23 ( 935832 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:10PM (#22845770)
    This is SUN vs. MicroSoft
    (BD-J vs. HDi aka MSJava Script)

    Java is the platform for the world wide distribution of IPTV.

    I don't think that MS will be pushing anything that competes with their version of a Java virtual machine much less include a Sony product in their 360.
    (the final offer by MS and Toshiba to prevent a format war was the inclusion of HDi... Sony and Sun walked away)

    While it makes Cents that they should, I don't think they will.
  • Re:Live marketplace (Score:5, Interesting)

    by katorga ( 623930 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:13PM (#22845816)
    Digital distribution will get killed by the ISP's and their bandwidth throttling in the US. It competes directly with their core content distribution model. Disk is still the high-bandwidth, lowest cost distribution model for 20GB files in the current environment.

    Sony's BR 2.0 spec with a hybrid digital-physical model is the best fit.
  • I don't know... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by keirre23hu ( 638913 ) <j2k4real@3.14gmail.com minus pi> on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:21PM (#22845920) Homepage
    Reading the article (yes foreign for slashdot) it says that they can use the HDi for other things. My money says they're planning some form of distribution down to the road via X-Box live perhaps? Especially now that vendors like NetFlix do online video rental.

    Of course, with HD content you have the not so insignificant issue of transferring many Gigabytes of data for any feature length content, and how many of them could you store on a stock 360?

    In any case, this is probably a boneheaded move destined to backfire.
  • by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:24PM (#22845960)
    You're right. Profit is profit. The simplest answer is that having a Blu-Ray drive available for the Xbox 360 is simply not profitable. The initial HD DVD drive sold relatively poorly. I believe sales were about 500,000. There's no reason to think a Blu-Ray drive would sell any better.

    Sure, it makes them money, but it doesn't make them enough profit. Otherwise, they would've done it.
  • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:26PM (#22846010) Homepage Journal

    But their standard is completely dead now it seems, and to keep pushing for it is incomprehensible.

    HD-DVD is indeed completely dead, and Microsoft has stopped manufacturing the HD-DVD add-on (more correctly they no longer Toshiba to make it for them). Microsoft knows that HD-DVD as a physical format is dead.

    However XBox Live! isn't dead, nor is traditional DVD. The former has great future potential (it, and similar services like iTunes movies, aren't something I'm interested in because the bitrate is going to remain far too low until the end-to-end infrastructure of the internet is dramatically improved, but it's good enough for a lot of people), and the latter is easily good enough for most consumers.

    So no, their "standard" isn't dead. DVD is easily going to be dominant until the next generation of game machines, possibly even to the one after that. And then there comes a point where optical media doesn't even matter anymore.

    Really this is all rather silly. Microsoft barely supported HD-DVD. Why do people think they're going to rush and support Blu-ray, especially given that the technical requirements of Blu-ray guarantee that such an add-on would be very pricey: How can you compete with Sony that is already selling a full game machine with Blu-ray at less than the cost of a competing companies stand-alone, no-game-machine-included players.
  • by jasen666 ( 88727 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:34PM (#22846118)
    I don't know... just because HD-DVD is dead in the consumer market, it may not stop them from using it as a proprietary system for the console. If anything, it might afford them more protection from piracy than any DRM. If no one can get HD-DVD drives to read the disks, no one can decrypt or copy them. The Blu-ray BD+ DRM has already been broken by Slysoft (AnyDVD), for instance.

    I could see a problem with production. They'd have to find a company willing to continue to manufacture the drives for them; knowing that MS might be their sole customer. They wouldn't want to get into a position of being dependent on that manufacturer and then have to pay through the nose for the hardware. So either pay more for them, or bring production inhouse. Either option more costly than Blu-ray drives.
    I'm curious to see where they go with it myself.
  • Re:Live marketplace (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sandbags ( 964742 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:44PM (#22846248) Journal
    Digital dsitrubution is NOT a competitor. It is for reneted or short term materials, but lets face it, if my choice is to save $5 or less to download a movie instead of buying the hard copy, or risking loosing the media and also incurring the cost for it's storage.

    With physical media I:
    - can easily loan it to a friend or family member, without wasting blank media or time to burn it.
    - can move it from system to system in seconds, not hours over a network connection
    - don't need systems to be compatible for steaming or sharing, a BD player in each room costs about the same as (and will cost less than) the equipment to connect the TV to the network for streaming HD.
    - Can make electronic copies for backup (wether currently legal or not)
    - can move it off my hard drives at will without buying media and wasting hours (days) to burn it (If I want to encode it on the computer I can, and in less time than burning a DVD...)
    - don't have to buy bigger and bigger hard drives and RAID system as my collection grows
    - don't have to wait DAYS for Antivirus scans to complete, or copying to new drives as my old ones fill up.
    - don't have to back it up

    Digital distribution works fine for music, for which I can have tousands of songs on cheap hard drives, and streaming works great over even the cheapest wireless devices for stereo surround audio. It's easy to maintain and copy when your whole collection is less than 100GB (and that's a BIG collection). When a single HD movie is 20-50GB, it's not easy or cheap to maintain my own collection electronically. heck, even standard definition DVDs are hard to maintain on a sharing network.

    On-demand video? yes, digital downloads may very well replace Blockbuster. If an all-you-can-eat subscription was available (netflix size library, digitized in HD, and available to start playing within 5 minutes) and the fee was equivolent to current subscription fees ($15 per month) it might become feasable, but you still can't take it with you unless you download the entire movie before leaving... When I go on vacation, or to a friend's house, I want a few dozen good classic movies with me, and a few new ones to. Even at over 8MB downspeed, I'm looking at typing up my pipe for days to download a weeks worth of movies, and hundreds of GBs to store them on. Also, my laptop, even if it had that much storage, doesn't plug into most hotel TVs...

    Digital downloads are strong competition for HBO and other networks. Why pay $12/month per channel when you could pay $20/month and see every movie your hear desires on demand? This I see is where digital downloads will make their mark. They're obviously competition for the rental industry, provided the set top box is part of a service and not several hundred dolars by itself.

    The best solution in my mind? ...best of both worlds. A set top DVR that can record and play back live HDTV, integrates on on-demand service allowing both per-purchase options as well as monthly all-access subscriptions (hot releases cost a buck or two extra each). Also, instead of a $4 rental, offer a $14 download-to-own option, and for an additional $3 they'll send the original media to you in the mail in a few weeks so you don't have to make backup copies. The set top box should integrate a BD writer so anything you've downloaded (or recorded live) you could burn to your own media. Also integrate it into the network so movies and other content of the DVR can be shared on the network and vice-versa. Also allow an agent to run on a computer so you can not only download movies, but select which PCs they're automatically copied to, like podcasts, so you can keep the most recent, unwatched movies, as well as a few selected favorites, on your laptop and your iPhone without having to copy them there (and waste hours) when you're on the go.
  • Re:Live marketplace (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Vancorps ( 746090 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:45PM (#22846274)

    You're making an incredibly bad assumption that an HD movie streamed over the Internet is 20GB in size. It is not in the same format you would find on a blue-ray disc. It would be compressed and ultimately be at most a couple of gigs easily streamed at a respectable bit-rate. People all the time download HD content. Azureus has a whole section just for it and I stream it without any issue over a standard cable Internet connection.

    ISP's could wreck the model but they have always adapted to the increases and I see no reason why that would stop now.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @12:45PM (#22846282)

    Because one thing that Microsoft does better than almost any other company is look to the future.
    I disagree. Microsoft has consistently been late to the game. They were late to figure out how big the world wide web would be, and they didn't see the possibilities of "convergence in the living room" until their competitors started moving that way - THAT'S when the XBox was born. They want Windows to be everywhere, and eventually realized the popular game consoles presented a big problem for them.

    The one thing Microsoft does do better than almost any other company, though, is to throw truckload after truckload of money at these missed opportunities. But very few other companies have the cash on hand to do that. Also, it still remains to be seen if it'll even work - remember, as popular as the 360 is among the hard-core gaming crowd it's still selling far less than even the PS2, and not outselling the PS3 anymore.

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @01:00PM (#22846530)

    But their standard is completely dead now it seems, and to keep pushing for it is incomprehensible. I mean, they have to be more intelligent than that, right?!
    The fact that they lost this one does not mean they will be willing to chance the loss of their position in the market with Windows. They exist only because Windows exists and believe it or not, Blu-ray is a platform threat to Windows. Also remember that Microsoft only "supports" products which are Windows platform lock-ins. They tolerate others doing things on their platform only until those vendors products become a threat or start enabling capabilities on other platforms. One thing about Blu-ray Microsoft despises is its menu system is implemented in Java and every Blu-ray device ships with embedded Java in it.

    Check this out and look for the word "pawn" in it:
    http://antitrust.slated.org/www.iowaconsumercase.org/011607/3000/PX03096.pdf [slated.org]

    So thinking that Microsoft will do what the market asks and help a potential threat to their existence is asking a very lot of Microsoft. They've never done this without either a way to own or destroy the cross-platform capabilities or a way to force their own product(s) onto the market. Microsoft's profits in a market sector have been traded many many times for protection of the Windows platform. Again, Microsoft exists only because Windows exists and without that, over 60% of the profits go away very very quickly. If Blu-ray is seen as a platform threat, Microsoft will not support it without some plan to eliminate the platform threat. And I think the threat has more to do with Java being the Blu-ray spec than Sony's ownership or creation of the spec. IMO.

    I find it hard to believe they think the distribution/network is mature enough to jump on a network distribution mechanism instead. But they may feel that they can slow the adaption enough with disabling or stalling the Blu-ray devices on their platform(s). Xbox is the obvious one because they attempted to leverage it for promoting HD-DVD. They knew they couldn't embed it in the Xbox because the price increase would have given PS3 more leverage. We should soon start to see see how they will try to stall Blu-ray on Windows as the devices start moving to PCs.

  • Re:Eventually ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @01:47PM (#22847298) Homepage


    I see what you did there. Clever.

    Rampant stupidity aside, I think that if Microsoft will integrate Blu-Ray into their consoles it won't be until the next Xbox is released.

    Not to mention there is still no garuntee that Blu-Ray will win...it beat out HD-DVD, but now it has to beat out plain vanilla DVD. Sony may have been able to win by buying out [gizmodo.com] some of the movie studios, but it's real challange lies ahead: convincing folks to stop buying DVDs and DVD players (which can be had for thirty dollars) and buy Blu-Ray discs and players (whose prices have gone up, not down since there is no long any viable HD competition) [tomshardware.com]

    Sony's biggest hurdle, really, will be convincing your average joe everyman that there is a significant enough difference between DVD and Blu-Ray to drop a couple thousand on a TV, a few hundred on a player, and on average pay $5-$15 more per movie. Not saying it's impossible or won't happen, I'm just saying that getting rid of HD-DVD was the easy part.
  • Re:Eventually ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sentry21 ( 8183 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @02:05PM (#22847646) Journal

    ...but it's real challange lies ahead: convincing folks to stop buying DVDs and DVD players (which can be had for thirty dollars) and buy Blu-Ray discs and players...
    This is a task that electronics retailers (such as Best Buy) are in a real position to do with side-by-side demonstrations. Heck, I was in a Future Shop on Boxing Day and saw two identical televisions - identical except that one was the 1080i model, and one was 1080p - and I could tell the difference. It was subtle, but it was there. Showing someone a 1080p Blu-Ray feature next to the 480p DVD feature on the same television is going to be a pretty convincing show.

    The real trick is going to be getting the same content on both TVs, despite different sources. Perhaps downsamping the HD version, then letting the TV upscale it, would be a demonstration? Hard to say. Still, that would make a lot of sales.
  • by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @02:22PM (#22847986)

    The difference is that for iTunes, Apple doesn't need Microsoft's permission, they just have to make the program and make it available.
    But does Microsoft need Sony's permission to sell a Blu-Ray drive for the XBox? My understanding is that Sony is a major member of the Blu-Ray group, but that they in no way own the Blu-Ray market. Can Sony stop Microsoft from going to Samsung and asking for a Blu-Ray drive that connects to the XBox?
  • by jimlintott ( 317783 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @02:39PM (#22848278) Homepage
    The problem with a PS3 as an HD player is that it lacks discreet analogue audio outputs for 7.1 sound. This means that to get the 7.1 sound you have to have a receiver that does HDMI 1.3 and have the proper codecs to decode the audio.

    My current amp has discreet analogue inputs and the BD players have the outputs. Four pair of audio cables later and I get the new HD 7.1 surround. With a PS3 I need to also drop about a grand on an amp. I consider the audio more important than the video so I wouldn't even consider the PS3 for movie playback. At this time. If I had a suitable amp I might.
  • by Fishchip ( 1203964 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @04:34PM (#22849658)
    Informative my ass. HD!=HD-DVD. Are Microsoft and Apple offering HD-DVD downloads? Or just downloads at a res greater than standard DVD? This little kerfuffle is about HD-DVD vs Blue-Ray, physical media. Still, for fucksake. A standard online format won't matter in terms of whether it's HD-DVD or Blu-Ray until Joe Consumer can download this media and burn it to a physical disc which he can use in his home HD setup, involving a sleek black box with a tray disc loader as opposed to a PC. I personally have a PC hooked to my HD TV so I really don't care what format I download, as long as I have codecs for it and my video card scales it so it doesn't look like epilepsy central on my TV. Right now, yes, in terms of projected continued success in physical media, Blu-Ray will have 100% of the market for hi-def DVDs.
  • by mweather ( 1089505 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @04:38PM (#22849714)
    Nintendo entirely missed the point, and they're going to pay dearly for it. This isn't a battle over video games. It's a battle over home entertainment and computing. They've won the video game war, but at the cost of everything else. I don't know which device will be the heart of the living room when the war is won, but I know video games will be one of it's least important roles.
  • by LionMage ( 318500 ) on Monday March 24, 2008 @07:22PM (#22851232) Homepage
    Wow, somebody is really playing fast and loose with the "Flamebait" moderation.

    For what it's worth, I think the parent makes a good point. Whether he's right or not, only time will tell... but I find his POV interesting. The PS3 and the Xbox 360 are both much, much more than game systems, whereas the Wii is primarily a gaming system that has a few extra features (e.g., web browser) thrown in for good measure. Nintendo focused on one core area of competency -- they wanted a big slice of one pie -- whereas Sony and Microsoft are both after slices of other pies in addition to the gaming pie.

    While gaming might be a fast growing entertainment market segment, it's not the only segment, and it's still not the biggest. Devices that play well in multiple segments are going to do better in the long run, or so Sony and Microsoft are betting. I wouldn't bet against them.

    My only point of disagreement with the parent is when he claims that video games will be one of the least important roles of a living room convergence device -- I think gaming is and will continue to be a very important role, even if a cynic might argue that gaming is just a trojan horse to get these devices into the living room.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll