updated 07:55 am EDT, Thu October 22, 2009
Ballmer sees Blu-ray external only
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer may have inadvertently tipped off his firm's plans for an external Blu-ray drive for the Xbox 360 in a talk in advance of today's Windows 7 launch. The executive is doubtful that it will ever be built-in but does tell Gizmodo that an external Blu-ray drive will be an option. He doesn't provide details but is unexpectedly confident that the hardware is enroute.
"Well I don't know if we need to put Blu-ray in there -- you'll be able to get Blu-ray drives as accessories," Ballmer says.
Company spokespeople asked about the statement wouldn't confirm or deny plans but do say that immediate plans focus only on 1080p streaming video through the upcoming Zune Video Marketplace on the Xbox. Microsoft is "not ready for comment" on any longer-term plans.
Microsoft has been reluctant to incorporate Blu-ray ever since the effective death of the HD DVD format in early 2008, when it had no choice but to phase out a USB-based HD DVD reader for the Xbox 360. Since then, it and observers have cited multiple reasons against building in Blu-ray, including both a shift to online video streaming, the high prices of Blu-ray drives and the possibility of splitting the Xbox market by offering the possibility of Blu-ray games.