Why Didn’t Microsoft Ship the Xbox 360 with an HD-DVD Drive?


microsoft xbox 360 hd dvdQuick Thought: We keep hearing that Sony will have Blu-ray support in its upcoming PlayStation 3. And various tech pundits and content distributors keep touting that Blu-ray will be the eventual winner in the next-gen DVD battle, due in no small part to PS3′s aggressive future adoption. So, why didn’t Microsoft ship their new game console with an HD-DVD drive as standard (HD-DVD drives for PCs have been on the market since November) and get a leg up on the competition? Remember: Microsoft has publicly announced that they back HD-DVD as their high-definition DVD format of choice.

At this point in time, it probably doesn’t mean much; but wait until PS3 launches and high-definition DVDs start hitting the market. Then we’ll see if Microsoft regets its decision. I’m guessing they will — Big Time. Note: There’s been rumors that Microsoft will eventually release an HD-DVD version of the Xbox, but it seems a little too late if they want to capture a large chunk of the market for their preferred format. What do you think?





Filed in: Industry Buzz


  • petpie

    For game play, DVDs are fine (for now, obviously). The only advantage of HD-DVD on the system at release would be a nice sticker on the media tray, with an inflated sticker price on the box.

    I think Microsoft realized that getting out on the market first, they could stay with dvd technology and easily get away with it. Once the PS3 is up for release, I think they (at least) announce the HD-DVD, if not bring it to market.

    About a year ago it was getting pretty clear the Blu-ray had the upper hand already, and with the high costs of the new technologies, I don’t think it made sense to support a format that may not last 2 more years (umm, from a year ago…)

  • brianworkman

    I think that the version with the HD-DVD will be the less pubilizied XBox-360 PC (that is suppose to have the full Media Center system). I have a lot of interest in this product, if it comes to the light of day. From what I have read in articles I can find is that the price is suppose to be around $599. I hope that Microsoft rethinks this. Given that we would probably not see the HD-DVD or Cablecard, etc at that price.

    If Microsoft put out a Xbox product next summer that had the bells and whistles that we have been hoping for in a Media Center, I would be a definite buyer, as I would assume a lot of people would. I would assume that they would still sell it at a loss (like the versions out now) in hopes of (1) gaining money back on the games and (2) getting a huge shot in the arm for Media Center in the home. They also could make money back on accessories like a DVD vault for it, that would compare to the ones that Sony and Niveus have come out with. I think that if they water downed Vista enough to just allow Media Center to run and add plug-ins (and hopefully that would make for a more stable environment), that this machine should be able to be on the market for $999, which is still a bargain for what you are getting (top of the line Media Center that can play your Xbox 360 games.

    That is my hope anyway. That and a Sony XBR TV that can receive 1080p signals. :D

  • David Walker

    I think Sony has some big hurdles to overcome to get Blu-Ray adopted. First, they have to keep movie prices reasonable. If they plan to sell Blu-Ray movies at $30 to $40, they’re going to quickly find that there are only a few select people who will make that investment. DVD’s average $15 a piece right now – and there are some players that upscale these movies for HDTV. They’re not the perfect solution, but for those of us with HDTV sets, they work well enough. I’m not going to pay 2x as much for a movie that has better resolution.

    Secondly, the Blu-Ray standard has been embraced by the Movie Industry because of it’s tight security standards – too tight in my opinion. And, given Sony’s recent history with DRM, I’m not so sure I trust them in that area.

    All of that said – I think Microsoft is looking past HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray. I think they see online distribution as the future. And – given the right compression, DVD’s can store plenty of data AND could store an HD-DVD movie encoded in the right format.

  • todd

    If they had released the HD-DVD drive with the XBOX 360, they would be unable to have a second media splash next year to revive interest in the XBOX system after the new Playstation comes out and steals media attention.

  • brianworkman

    Alexander Grundner said: Quick Thought: We keep hearing that Sony will have Blu-ray support in its upcoming PlayStation 3. And various tech pundits and content distributors keep touting that Blu-ray will be the eventual winner in the next-gen DVD battle, due in no small part to PS3′s aggressive future adoption. So, why didn’t Microsoft ship their new game console with an HD-DVD drive as standard (HD-DVD drives for PCs have been on the market since November) and get a leg up on the competition? Remember: Microsoft has publicly announced that they back HD-DVD as their high-definition DVD format of choice.

    At this point in time, it probably doesn’t mean much; but wait until PS3 launches and high-definition DVDs start hitting the market. Then we’ll see if Microsoft regets its decision. I’m guessing they will — Big Time. Note: There’s been rumors that Microsoft will eventually release an HD-DVD version of the Xbox, but it seems a little too late if they want to capture a large chunk of the market for their preferred format. What do you think?

    My thought as to why no HD-DVD on the Xbox 360 is that when you get down to it, it would not have been used very much. For most tech heads, the Xbox is NOT going to be the center of their entertainment system, a full blown media center will be. So a HD-DVD would have been a waste in some respects, and would have cost us more to purchase the Xbox. You would have been playing DVD’s on your Xbox rather than your Media Center (that kind of defeats the purpose of the Media Center, especially with the new DVD changers). I think that we will see a HD-DVD on a Xbox 360, but it will be on the less pubilizied XBox-360 PC (which is what I am guessing), because it will be the center of the entertainment center and at that point HD-DVD discs will be available.

  • http://www.alexandergrundner.com Alexander Grundner

    I disagree. HD-DVD drives are compatible with standard DVDs and would have worked right out of the box with the media people currently own. The point is… Microsoft should have started building penetration in a market they are vested in. Sure, everyone can wait for the version that will have HD-DVD support and other goodies, but now you’ve lost those first few million customers who bought the core and premium systems (no one is going to upgrade from those to an HD DVD version). Moreover, the Xbox will be the preferred device for viewing DVDs, and hopefully later HD-DVDs, since everyone places those right under the TV sets and replace their old DVD players. You can’t say that with MCE PCs. Only a fraction of the MCE PCs sold are set-top form factor PCs. Plus, the majority of people don’t watch DVDs from their desktop PCs on a computer monitor – that’s just lame. But through a game console… that’s a different story.

  • brianworkman

    I agree with most of your point. In a lot of instances, it would have been a good idea to stick the HD-DVD player in the Xbox 360 and get that market share. I am simply saying that the current versions of the Xbox 360 were not made to become the center of the home media experience for people. And most (probably 50-60%) Xboxs are going to be stuck in kids bedrooms (which won’t have HDTV capable tv’s). I disagree with you that some people won’t upgrade their Xbox, once the new one comes out I think a lot of the current versions will be on ebay.

    I was not necessarily talking about people have Media Center PC’s. I was talking more or less about the Xbox 360 PC. That they will be desigend (hopefully) to be the center of the media experience in people’s houses. And I do agree that most people are nevering going to watch movies on their PC screens, that is a little lame.

  • http://www.alexandergrundner.com Alexander Grundner

    So you really think Microsoft is going to release a hybrid Xbox 360 Media Center PC? I went back and dug through the archives, all I could find was the story from The Inquirer that made reference to what you’re talking about. So far the first part of the story has been tweaked to what we currently have, and I’m getting the feeling that if Microsoft offers another “premium” version it will be one that includes a hard drive, HD-DVD drive, and keyboard. And if we’re REALLY lucky, one that includes CableCARD support (although, there’s been no word anywhere that they would do this — it’s just wishful thinking at this point); however, if that were to happen, we would have to wait until December 2006.

  • brianworkman

    No, but I am really praying a lot.