San Francisco: Microsoft confirmed on Monday that it will no longer make HD DVD drives for its Xbox 360 video game consoles.
The much-anticipated announcement comes in the wake of the format being abandoned by its creator, Japanese electronics giant Toshiba, as well as major Hollywood studios and US retail chains.
“As a result of recent decisions made by Toshiba, Hollywood studios, and retailers, Microsoft plans to withdraw from HD DVD,” the US technology titan said in a written statement released during the weekend.
“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.”
Toshiba last week conceded defeat to rival Sony in a long-running DVD format war.
Toshiba said it would stop selling its HD DVD machines by the end of March, clearing the way for the Blu-ray format developed by Sony and its partners to become the industry standard.
The victory is sweet revenge for Sony, which learned its lessons well from a defeat in a similar format war that erupted in the late 1970s between the VHS and Betamax types of video cassettes.
Sony includes a Blu-ray player in its own video game console, the PlayStation 3.
Analysts say the end of the format war will reduce consumer confusion and should encourage the Hollywood studios to bring out more movies on Blu-ray.
Toshiba has sold 700,000 HD DVD players globally, while 300,000 more HD DVD drives have been sold for Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox 360 video game console. Many more have been put into laptop computers.
“We do not believe this decision will have any material impact on the Xbox 360 platform or our position in the marketplace,” Microsoft said of abandoning HD DVD drives.
Microsoft did not reveal whether it plans to shift to the Blu-ray format.
Blu-ray and HD DVD both offer cinematic-quality images and multimedia features, but the movie studios were eager to see the emergence of just one standard, while many consumers had been reluctant to buy a machine that might become nearly useless.
HD DVD’s fate was sealed by a series of heavy setbacks, with Hollywood powerhouse Warner Brothers and US retail colossus Wal-Mart both throwing their weight behind Blu-ray.