CES '08: 360 could do an 180 on Blu-ray

[UPDATE] Microsoft exec tells Reuters that if customers choose Sony's high-def disc format, the Xbox manufacturer might make an add-on for it.

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At the Consumer Electronics Show two years ago, shortly after Microsoft announced the HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360, the company's then-Xbox marketing executive Peter Moore admitted that a future add-on that would play Blu-ray discs was not out of the question, if the need for one arose.

With Warner Bros. last week committing to produce Blu-ray movies exclusively, many industry watchers predicted that Sony's high-definition disc format--a prominent feature of the PlayStation 3--had scored a knockout punch on Toshiba's HD DVD. At this year's CES, Microsoft's Xbox group marketing manager Albert Penello told Reuters today that the Warner move wasn't the end of the format wars, but acknowledged that his company is still keeping its options open.

"It should be consumer choice; and if that's the way they vote, that's something we'll have to consider," Penello told the news service.

While Penello downplayed the potential impact of the Warner deal on Xbox 360 sales, he acknowledged that it wasn't something the HD DVD-backing Microsoft had wanted to see.

"You can't say it's not a bummer, not a setback, but I've seen this battle declared over so many times," Penello said, adding, "I want consumers to have a voice in this and I think there are a lot of consumers who bought HD DVD who are going to have a say in how this shakes out."

[UPDATE] While Microsoft may be keeping its options open, it is far from abandoning HD DVD outright. Speaking with GameSpot, the console maker reaffirmed that the HD DVD format is still its high-definition playback standard of choice, for the time being. "Microsoft currently has no plans at this time to consider Blu-ray as an option. We continue to believe that HD DVD is the best optical solution for consumers, since it's the only format today that delivers quality experiences at affordable prices."

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