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Microsoft slashes HD DVD player prices, will discontinue product

If you've always salivated over that HD DVD player for your Xbox 360 but thought it was too pricey, now's your chance to grab it.

Software giant Microsoft Corp. said Monday that it's slashing the price of the player by more than half — from $129.99 to $49.99. The price cut comes on the heels of similar reductions by retailers such as Best Buy and Kmart, as well as online merchant Amazon.com.

What triggered the dip could be the weekend's news that Microsoft will discontinue making the high-definition players in the wake of the recent endorsements of the competing Blu-ray format of the high-def DVD technology.

Microsoft said it would continue to provide standard warranty support for its HD DVD players. Toshiba president Atsutoshi Nishida last week estimated about 300,000 people own the Microsoft video player, sold as a separate add-on for the Xbox 360.

"HD DVD is one of the several ways we offer a high-definition experience to consumers, and we will continue to give consumers the choice to enjoy digital distribution of high-definition movies and TV shows directly to their living room, along with playback of the DVD movies they already own," said Blair Westlake, a corporate vice president of Microsoft's media and entertainment group.

Microsoft was one of HD DVD's main backers, along with Intel Corp. and Japanese electronics maker NEC Corp., and its support was seen as a big win for Toshiba's format.

HD DVD's descent began last week when Toshiba, its champion, said it will stop developing and selling the product by the end of March. Toshiba's decision came after Warner Bros. Entertainment, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Netflix endorsed Blu-ray.

The domino effect among HD DVD fans further solidifies Sony Corp.'s victory with its Blu-ray format. Sony's PlayStation 3 is equipped with it.

Microsoft said it is looking at how the HD DVD technology it has developed, such as HDi, which adds interactive features to HD DVDs, and its VC-1 video encoding technology, can be applied to other platforms.

The Redmond, Wash., softwaremaker said the decision to stop selling HD DVD players won't have a material impact on its video game business.

Information from Times wires

was used in this report.

Madhusmita Bora can be reached

at mbora@sptimes.com

or (813) 225-3112.

Microsoft slashes HD DVD player prices, will discontinue product 02/25/08 [Last modified: Monday, February 25, 2008 11:19pm]
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