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Microsoft Corp., the developer of the popular Xbox 360 game console and the backer of HD DVD standard, said in an interview that it would detail its external HD DVD disc drive for the latest gaming machine at E3 trade-show in San Francisco, California next month.

In an interview with German Spiegel Online web-site Chris Lewis, vice president of the home and entertainment division for Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region said that the company would unveil some new details concerning the already announced external HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360. He said that with the help of the drive users will be able to watch HD DVD movies and, probably, have some other benefits.

“We’ll say a little bit more about it at E3. It will give people access to HD DVD. […] We will make sure that the HD-DVD-peripheral device will meet all the requirements for consumers to enjoy high-definition DVD playback,” said Mr. Lewis.

The Microsoft executive also took an opportunity to once again blast competing Blu-ray disc format, which will be featured in arch-rival’s Sony PlayStation 3 console. He claimed the HD DVD technology might be behind Blu-ray technologically, but end-users and published would still prefer the former.

“Blu-ray right now reminds us of another technology from Sony: Betamax. A bit like VHS – we think that HD DVD is the format that consumers, film studios and publishers will embrace,” Mr. Lewis indicated.

Announced in early January, the Xbox 360 external HD DVD drive is promised to be available in 2006. Besides, the company indicated that more than 50 new high-definition Xbox 360 games would be available by June 2006.

Microsoft Xbox 360 console is based around microprocessor developed by IBM, high-definition visual processing unit designed by ATI Technologies, I/O controller engineered by SiS and some other key components. The gaming machine will provide a broad set of multimedia capabilities in addition to games. Depending on the bundle, Microsoft Xbox 360 costs $299 or $399.

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