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Microsoft looks to ruffle a few Sony feathers with Xbox Live Video

With Sony's PlayStation 3 just around the corner, Microsoft is looking to have just a bit of an edge to push things in its favor for the holiday season. Gears of War should be out this week to give gamers a bloody dose of fraggin' fun and the HD DVD player is set to drop on November 7. But Microsoft has even bigger plans for its year-old Xbox 360.

Starting November 22, Microsoft will be expanding its Xbox Live service to include high-definition movie downloads as well as standard and high-definition television content. The Redmond-based company has announced deals with CBS, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures, TBS, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to blanket Xbox Live with over 1,000 hours of TV programming and movies.

Gamers will be able to access full-length TV shows and download/rent movies from Xbox Live. Customers will also have access to condensed versions of hit TV shows like "CSI" and "Numb3rs" as well as re-mastered versions of classics like "Star Trek." And for the racing fans out there, condensed versions of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races will also be available.

"This groundbreaking announcement is a win for everyone. It connects our partners with one of the most coveted audiences in entertainment today, and provides even greater value to our Xbox Live community, allowing them to enjoy the games and entertainment they want, when they want it," said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft.

According to Engadget, here are a few things to know about the new service:

  • Content will be purchased using Microsoft Points.
  • TV shows will go for 240 MS points while movie downloads will ring up at 480 and 320 MS points respectively for high-defintion and standard-definition versions.
  • TV shows and movies can only be downloaded to the Xbox 360's hard drive and not to an external USB hard drive or thumb drive.
  • Movies can only be rented, TV shows are purchased.
  • Downloaded movies can be watched as much as you like for up to 24 hours.
  • No content is streamed -- it's download only.
  • All content is encoded in VC1 (WMV HD) at 6.8Mbps video and 5.1 surround sound

All content will be downloaded to the Xbox 360’s removable 20GB hard drive, so if your drive is already near full, you may just be out of luck. That’s too bad considering that it’s unlikely that Microsoft will release that previously rumored 100GB hard drive.

You can catch a full listing of programming available on Microsoft's Xbox website.

Update 11/7/2006: Engadget has posted a hands-on look at Xbox Live Video including numerous images of the interface.




"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home
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