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The clash between Blu-ray and HD DVD formats is ongoing in the world of consumer electronics, but it is likely to reach the game consoles when Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. releases its highly-anticipated PlayStation 3 game machine later during the year. Executives at Toshiba believe that Microsoft would answer Sony by releasing an Xbox 360 with internal HD DVD drive, but Microsoft’s representatives deny such a plan.

“One looming potential war extending from this is the Xbox versus PlayStation. The Xbox is coming out with an HD DVD player towards the end of this year. With Microsoft’s marketing engine behind HD DVD, who knows what will happen,” said Mark Whittard, general manager of Toshiba Information Systems Division in Australia, iTWire web-site reports.

It would not be logical for Microsoft to release Xbox 360 featuring HD DVD optical drive, as all the content for the Xbox 360 game machines is made on DVDs and extra capacity provided by the HD DVD will either not be used, or the games developed for the new console flavour will not work in all their glory on the older machines. Historically, game console makers never released more advanced versions of game consoles after the initial release, as game developers would have to alter their titles to take advantage of the new technology.

“I would imagine that there are plans in place to put an HD DVD drive internally in future revisions of the product. They’re not speaking about it publicly at the moment but I would expect them to do that and fairly soon,” Mr. Whittard added.

Earlier Microsoft unveiled plans to release an external HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 game console, which would allow the machine to playback HD DVD movies. Since HD DVD drives are not very affordable, putting the HD DVD drive inside the console would increase its price significantly, whereas those, who want to have HD DVD playback capability are likely to look forward to pay $200 - $300 for an add-on device, rather than purchasing a $499 player from Toshiba or Thomson. Microsoft has denied that it has plans to offer an Xbox 360 with built-in HD DVD drive.

“We feel that offering the drive externally is the best way to give consumers the ultimate choice to create their own high definition experiences. We have no plans to release the Xbox 360 with an internal HD DVD drive,” a Microsoft spokesperson is reported to have said to GameDaily web-site.

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