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Microsoft to launch Blu-ray 360?

Could the Xbox 360 soon come with an internal Blu-ray drive?

Microsoft is getting ready to launch a stand-alone Blu-ray player to replace its dead-in-the-water


drive. That’s according to


, which claims that Microsoft is several steps down the line towards joining team Blu-ray.

Unnamed ‘insiders’ at Microsoft are reported to have said that, along with a stand-alone Blu-ray drive for existing Xbox 360 consoles, a new Xbox with internal Blu-ray drive will also be launched.

It’s not the first time such rumours have surfaced, of course. And what with HD DVD’s demise seemingly imminent, it was almost a given that the rumours would surface again this week.

Xbox 360 to go Blu-ray?

However, it would certainly make sense for Microsoft to join the likes of Panasonic, Philips, Sharp and Sony in the Blu-ray camp. One of the key selling points of the PS3 is that it’s an affordable Blu-ray player. So an Xbox 360 with internal Blu-ray drive would certainly go some way towards castrating the PS3 and seizing the initiative once more.

The only problem for Microsoft is that PS3-creator, Sony, is in charge of giving out Blu-ray licenses. And so if it feels that giving Microsoft permission to go Blu-ray would be detrimental to its own sales, it might refuse any application for a licence.

The flipside of this argument is that Microsoft has already invested vast amounts of cash in its Xbox Live Video Marketplace service. It allows Xbox 360 gamers to download full-HD movies and video clips. It’s still early days, but Microsoft certainly expects digital downloads to play a big role in the future.

So does Microsoft want to spend money on going Blu-ray? And would Sony be happy about it if that were the case? These questions will surely be answered soon.

We’ve contacted the Blu-ray Disc Association to see what it thinks about Microsoft joining up. We’ll let you know what it says as soon as it gets back to us.