Microsoft is developing software that will add native support for devices that play Sony's Blu-ray high definition movie format to the Windows operating system, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said.
"We've already been working on, for example, in Windows, device driver support for Blu-ray drives and the like," said Ballmer, speaking at the Microsoft's Mix '08 conference. Ballmer also said that Microsoft is "going to support Blu-ray in ways that are important," according to a transcript of his remarks posted on the company's Web site.
The Mix '08 conference was held last week in Las Vegas.
Microsoft until recently used Toshiba's HD DVD format to add HD movie playback to its Xbox 360 gaming console. That practice abruptly ended last month when Toshiba announced its decision to kill HD DVD after virtually all major Hollywood studios threw their weight behind Blu-ray.
Many observers felt Toshiba's move would prompt Microsoft to expand the range of HD content available on its Xbox Live online service rather than turn to rival Sony's technology. But Ballmer's comments at Mix '08 indicate that the company hasn't ruled out Blu-ray for the Xbox.
"I think the world moves on. Toshiba has moved on. We've moved on. We'll support Blu-ray in ways that make sense," Ballmer said. "Today, I think it is actually pretty important to have some kind of drive (that supports HD content)," he added.
Last week, Sony Electronics U.S. president Stan Glasgow revealed at a media dinner in San Francisco that Microsoft and Sony are in discussions aimed at adding Blu-ray to the Xbox, according to an account of the event published by London's Financial Times.
Glasgow said his company also is engaged in talks that could see Sony Blu-ray devices added to Apple products, according to the paper.
Ballmer, however, made clear at Mix '08 that over the long term Microsoft sees the Internet, and not discs, as the primary vehicle for HD content access. "Five years from now, it may not make a bit of difference" whether the Xbox or other devices have DVD drives, Ballmer said.