Unlike Toshiba Corp., which is still strictly against Blu-ray disc (BD) format, Microsoft Corp. has always said that it might release an external Blu-ray optical disc drive for the Xbox 360 video game system if there is demand. According to market sources, the software giant does have plans to offer its customers a BD option.
Toshiba-Samsung Storage Technology Corp., a joint venture between Samsung Electronics and Toshiba Corp., has been contracted to manufacture external Blu-ray disc drives for Microsoft Xbox 360 game console. While the exact specifications of the product are unknown, it is rumoured that Microsoft aims at $100 - $150 price-point for the device in order to compete against Sony PlayStation 3 with Xbox 360 + external Blu-ray drive combination.
The main reason why Microsoft is unenthusiastic regarding Blu-ray is mandatory support of BD-Java interactive technology and Sony’s reluctance to adopt competing tech called HDi that was developed by Microsoft. Even though Microsoft managed to push its VC-1 codec onto both Blu-ray and HD DVD markets, the company’s negative attitude towards Java prevented it from supporting the former standard in general. As a result, the company used to sell external HD DVD drive for Xbox 360.
Nevertheless, as high-definition movies gain popularity, Microsoft has to support Blu-ray in order to leave Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. without an advantage of offering BD support exclusively with the PS3 on the market of video game consoles.
It is still unclear when exactly Microsoft plans to release its external Blu-ray solution for Xbox 360. Hypothetically, the company may launch it slightly ahead of the holiday season in an attempt to steal an advantage from the PlayStation 3. But since sales of Blu-ray are still on a low level, the software giant may decide to postpone the unveiling till Consumer Electronics Show early next year in order to get the most attention of the media with new device.
Microsoft and TSST did not comment on the news-story.