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Microsoft Corp.’s representatives in Taiwan said that the company would not release its external HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 game console in Asia this year, as there are not enough movies available on these markets. Even though no information about the company’s plans to release the device in Europe is available, the company may delay the launch due to a similar reason.

“Microsoft plans to launch external HD-DVD drives for Xbox 360 consoles in North America, around the end of this year, but the drive will be not be made available in Asia,” a news-story at DigiTimes web-site cites Microsoft Taiwan as saying.

Microsoft is quoted as indicating that due to shortages of blue-laser diodes, Microsoft is reluctant to launch a hardware piece on the market, which does not have enough movies. On the other hand, the demand for external HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 will not be high in Asia due to the lack of pre-recorded content. Currently there are virtually no HD DVD or Blu-ray disc movies in the European Union as well, if not consider international online stores, such as Amazon. This means that the world’s largest software maker may also not release its external HD DVD drive in the EU.

Microsoft is expected to launch the add-on HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 game console by Christmas for $200 (which is more than likely to transform into $199 when retailed), according to an earlier news-story. The drive will enable Xbox 360 owners to play high definition movies on HD DVDs, a standard that battles against Blu-ray for becoming the successor of DVD. The drive will feature H.264 video decoder from ATI Technologies, who developed visual processing unit for the gaming machine. It is projected that the add-on drive will allow Xbox 360 to compete head-to-head with Sony’s PlayStation 3 which offers rival format Blu-ray playback.

Even though it makes sense for Microsoft not to launch its external HD DVD drive for Xbox 360 in certain regions that do not have HD DVD movies, this means that many customers will acquire competing PlayStation 3 console that comes with rival Blu-ray disc format in a bid to be ready for next-generation content, which is not a positive sign for Microsoft.

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