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Bill Gates promises Xbox 360 HD DVD drive in CES keynote speech

by Steven Williamson on 5 January 2006, 07:48

Tags: Xbox 360, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Xbox 360

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HD-DVD Drive Announced

So Bill Gates' keynote address at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has ended. The speech took place at the Las Vegas Hilton in a room containing fewer  women than an Elton John barbeque. Gates took to the stage amid rapturous applause.

Last year, comedian Conan O'Brien hosted Gates' keynote in a mock interview. His style was a refeshing contrast to Bill's who is a notoriously boring speaker and  littered his 2005 presentation with technical codswallop that was never explained, such as 'PlaysForSure' and 'IPTV'. I had my fingers crossed that I would be more technically up to date this year than last or that Bill would be more in tune with consumers.

The aim of the 2006 keynote was to show Microsoft’s vision for the future of consumer technology, highlight the important role of software in developing and delivering innovation that benefits the industry and people everywhere. I personally hoped that Mr G might unveil something unexpected and - from my games-orientated perspective - it turned out that I wasn't totally disappointed.

He talked about MTV's music-download service, the Starz Vonga video-download service and how the Windows Vista operating system would interact with gaming. Included was a demonstration of the next PC Flight Simulator.

Gates boasted how Xbox 360 has enjoyed huge sales voluemes, saying it's set to become the fastest selling video game console ever - and re-interating that Microsoft is on schedule to ship between 4.5 and 5.5 million units by the end of this year.

After a splendid battle between Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates on Fight Night Round 3 (Gates kicked his ass by the way), vice president of marketing Peter Moore took to the stage and revealed that 2006 will see the introduction of an external HD DVD next-generation optical drive for the 360. But he made no mention of whether there will be HD DVD games. Nor did he give any indication of a likely price. Describing the HD DVD unit, he said, "The new drive will offer millions of Xbox 360 owners the ability to easily enjoy HD DVD movies and will provide consumers with even more choices for experiencing high-definition content, in either physical or digital form."

Peter Moore also said that over 50 HD games would be available for the Xbox 360 by the end of June 2006. There are currently 19 games available worldwide so the figure is certainly achievable. He also enthused over HD TV and told us that nine out of 10 Xbox 360 owners intend to purchase a set.

Moore addressed the issue of Xbox 360 shortages, telling the crowd that Microsoft has teamed up with manufacturer Celestica so as to be able to make more consoles at a faster rate. He went on to tell of a new Texas Hold'em poker game which will be available this year (wow, great) and revealed that there have been over 4 million downloads in the Xbox Live Marketplace since the launch.

Microsoft also announced an agreement with US satellite provider DirecTV Inc. The company plans to open up new ways for consumers to stream DirecTV content between Windows-based PCs, PlaysForSure's portable media devices, the Xbox 360 and DirecTV devices. However, connectivity with the console will likely be via a Media Center PC.

The speech was certainly more comprehensible and upbeat than last year and, although no ground-breaking news was revealed, Sony high-ups will have been shifting around uncomfortably in their chairs at the announcement of the HD DVD drive.

We'll have more news from CES throughout the day.

A transcript of the script will be posted when available. In the meantime you can view a webcast of the event. You might also care to check out a podcast of an interview with Peter Moore in which he previewed Xbox 360 CES news.

Oh - one last tit-bit. A Fight Night Round 3 demo is now available to download via the Xbox live marketplace!

HEXUS Forums :: 3 Comments

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“The coming year is one that will forever be remembered as a pivotal year in games and entertainment history.”

Street Fighter II will be coming to Xbox live arcade - cool!
HD DVD will not allow game storage according to

Quite disappointing