Microsoft execs have been quick to point out that the Xbox will not
be integrating Blu-ray into their console any time soon. Microsoft's European boss, Chris Lewis, is committed to bringing digital downloads to consumers, and believes that's where the future is. "Going forwards, digital downloads is really where it's at," Lewis told GamesIndustry.biz
. Xbox Live Video Marketplace currently supplies downloadable HD rentals of movies and television shows. Sony's PS3 does not currently feature a similar service.
"Before very long we will look back wistfully at shiny discs as something that was somewhat a historic phenomenon in a way that we kind of think about vinyl or VCRs today," Lewis stated. While the Microsoft-backed HD DVD format has "died" in the next generation format wars, Lewis believes that Blu-ray will follow the same fate. When will digital distribution take dominance? "I think that's going to be the case in the next 12-18 months."
Digital distribution would be great if the movie selection and video quality could match the offerings of a disc-based medium. Blu-ray discs offer 1080p video, uncompressed video and special features. Without the proper infrastructure and bandwidth to support such large files, we think digital distribution of HD video will take much longer to truly proliferate. Ultimately, only time will tell.