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Just a week after Toshiba Corp. decided to cease manufacturing of its HD DVD-supporting equipment, Microsoft Corp. announced decision to discontinue HD DVD add-on drive for Xbox 360 game console. The resolution means that Microsoft will have no reason to support the high-definition video format going forward, but does not indicate any intentions to supporting competing Blu-ray disc format.

“As a result of recent decisions made by Toshiba, Hollywood studios, and retailers, Microsoft plans to withdraw from HD DVD. [Microsoft] will no longer manufacture new HD DVD players for the Xbox 360, but we will continue to provide standard product and warranty support for all Xbox 360 HD DVD players in the market. As we stated earlier, we do not believe this decision will have any material impact on the Xbox 360 platform or our position in the marketplace,” a statement by Microsoft reads.

Microsoft was one of the most powerful supporters of HD DVD format. It developed VC-1 codec that is used on both Blu-ray and HD DVD as well as HDi technology, which enables interactive features of many HD DVD movies. But Microsoft has never built HD DVD player into its Xbox 360 game system and only sold add-on HD DVD drive for the game console. With the discontinuance of the add-on high-definition optical drive Microsoft said it plans to focus on distribution of downloadable high-definition movies. It is unclear whether the company also plans to release add-on Blu-ray disc drive for the Xbox 360.

“HD DVD is one of the several ways we offer a high definition experience to consumers and we will continue to give consumers the choice to enjoy digital distribution of high definition movies and TV shows directly to their living room, along with playback of the DVD movies they already own,” the statement reads.

Microsoft Xbox 360 console is based around triple-core 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 provides a broad set of multimedia capabilities in addition to games. Currently Microsoft Xbox 360 is available for $279, $349 or $449 in the USA depending on the version.

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