Microsoft Drops HD-DVD Support

Microsoft Drops HD-DVD Support


The final death throes of HD-DVD continued today as Microsoft officially canceled its HD-DVD peripheral for the Xbox 360.

The decision comes less than a week after Toshiba, one of the principles behind the HD-DVD format design, announced it was withdrawing from the platform war with Sony's Blu-ray format. Recent moves by major movie studios and retailers, including Warner Bros., Best Buy and Wal-Mart, to exclusive Blu-ray support led most industry observers to conclude that HD-DVD's demise was not far off.

"As a result of recent decisions made by Toshiba, Hollywood studios, and retailers, Microsoft plans to withdraw from HD-DVD," the company said in a statement reported by GamesIndustry. "Xbox 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." Microsoft added it did not expect the change to adversely affect its position in the console market.

The first consumer-level HD-DVD players were released by Toshiba in Japan in March 2006, beating Blu-ray to market by roughly three months. The format was supported by many industry heavyweights including Universal Studios, Microsoft, Intel and Hewlett Packard, but the inclusion of a Blu-ray player with Sony's PlayStation 3 console as well as a more focused marketing campaign led to more widespread acceptance of the competing format, ultimately resulting in HD-DVD's relatively rapid decline.


nyah nyah, microsoft has to pay sony! microsoft has to pay sony!

That sound you hear is the sound of millions of fanboys crying out in anguish.

Considering Sony lost with Betamax, you would think they knew what they were doing this time around. It would have been a surprise to me if HD-DVD had won.

nyah nyah, microsoft has to pay sony! microsoft has to pay sony!

Er, I believe Bluray's a consortium deal. As in, they can deal with other companies than Sony to produce a peripheral. Either way, that seems more than a little immature. It was always suspected they'd had an eye toward keeping their options open, and I remember someone from MS being coy in an interview recently on the subject.

The real question is who wins? there.
HD-DVD could have won with better marketing and eventually, the arrival of the versions containing more storage room, where even the improvements on the BR laser wouldn't have made much of a difference.

Badmouth gave their latest word on the battle's outcome.

So, globally, BR has more space and a faster reading tech (on maximum speed), which only matters for computers. Mere movie players would gain nothing out of this.
But games charging faster, eventually, would be a reality with BR. However, that's the amount of data which can be read by the player. This says nothing of the speed which this data can be treated at. If the streaming will be limited by the machine's power, the gain of this extra speed is less clear.

In terms of costs, HD-DVD was a no-brainer. It would always be cheaper than a Blu-Ray player, and the recent success of the BR player on the PS3s was largely due to the price being slashed and the machine sold on a much more favourable battlefield, that of pure BR players.

The other elements which didn't end in a tie were the region coding, the DRM (Digital Rights Management) protections and interactive features.
On all of them, the customer would have been at a comfortable advantage with HD-DVD, while Blu-Ray favours studios and publishers.
Let them put out DRM free and region coding free versions of the BR, and then it really gets cool for us.
I mean, we're supposed to be living on the same planet, like so many ads say. Well, I guess dividing people is still the rage within salarymen circles.
Of course, we'll have to get used to console builders telling us that import is baaaaad, because, I suppose, in other places such as Japan, for example, safety standards are much inferior to those of Europe.
Lik-Sang, R.I.P.

The bit on the interactive features is, I think, a problem which is very negligible and easily corrected.

The analysis on future-proofing is obviously short termed, and this matters little to all of us, because those two standards are supposed to stay there for a long time.

So, the real point that matters is that HD-DVD was clearly cheaper. BR is better on the amount of data read and storage space, which is relevant, though not necessarily correctly exploited or even fully exploitable in a near future, but BR is hampered by protections which only favour the industry holders, and not the consumers.

There's also the problem of hybrid players and reading DVDs on Blu-Ray players.
HD-DVD was held alive by the strong push provided by certain giants, notably Microsoft, but even them, when checking their calculators, they knew a while ago that the Blu-Ray was just one of those golden valleys where you just have to bend to fill your pockets with coins.

However, in terms of production costs, here are interesting numbers.
What we see is that for roughly equivalent storage capacities (instead of looking at numbers sorted by quantity of layers), the Blu-Ray discs are slightly cheaper to produce, which from a consumer standpoint, would mean slightly cheaper BR products than HD-DVD ones (but this does not include fees, which are apparently still higher for the HD-DVD), which is good for me, because all I care right now is my wallet, no Microsoft's, Toshiba's, Sony's or else.
But the differences, which are noticed, are also due to the fact that comparisons are made between the HD-DVD Dual Layer 30 Gb, and the Blu-Ray Single Layer 25 Gb.

The missing 5 Gb would easily explain the slightly more expensive total production price of HD-DVDs, and when we look at the ratios of dolar per unit of storage, the HD-DVDs do remain cheaper to produce than Blu-Rays. However, the trouble is that there are no HD-DVDs at 25 Gb, so on the final products, while the HD-DVDs needs to jump to a dual layer format to compete with the BR and offer a similar quantity of room, they end providing a bit too much room, which makes the HD-DVD less interesting, since still slightly more expensive as a single disc.

I'd gladly embrace the Blu-Ray if it could be made without all those protections, which hardly make anything different than what we had in the 90s, and are just all the better for hampering honest people from playing the discs on their own home equipment, as it happened with the extra BD+ layer.
They keep saying they want to democratize technologies, fluidify exchanges at a worldwide scale, but the DRMs are all the more screw ups in this fantasy painting, and hardly look convincing either in terms of security.

Actually, I think I'd wish both formats to die. No more HD-DVD. No more Blu-Ray. You say tera-disc? Huh, who needs even more useless space right now (or any close future)?

Wow, great post Abre. Explains alot, thanks :)


Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
Register for a free account here