"Bill Gates unveils external next-gen disc peripheral, new Xbox Live Arcade game at CES.
The Consumer Electronics Show kicked off tonight with a keynote address from Microsoft foudner, chairman, and chief software architect Bill Gates. And while just about anything the richest man in the world says makes the news--he was one of Time's 2005 Persons of the Year, after all--what he had to say tonight was of particular interest to gamers.
Besides offering brief comments about how Microsoft's next-generation operating system, Windows Vista, would interact with gaming--including a short demo of the next PC Flight Simulator, Gates also revealed that the Xbox 360 would be compatible with a next-generation disc format. As expected, the format in question is HD-DVD, the Toshiba-backed rival to Blu-ray Disc, which is supported by Microsoft's archrival in the next-gen console race, the Sony PlayStation 3. (Ironically, Toshiba partnered with Sony to produce the PS3's Cell CPU.)
Also, as one might guess given the fact the 360 has an internal standard DVD drive, the console's HD-DVD drive will be offered as an external peripheral. Microsoft's vice president of worldwide Xbox marketing, Peter Moore, who took the stage after a not-so-impromptu 360 Fight Night Round 3 bout between Gates and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (who in keeping with his fiery reputation, threw down his controller in a moment of defeatist rage after being KO'd by Gates in the match), said that the drive would arrive later this year. However, he did not show a final form factor for the drive or name a price point, although stand-alone HD-DVD players are expected to cost in excess of $300.
Moore also took the opportunity to underline Microsoft's bullish predictions for the 360. First, he touted the high attach rates for the console--an average of four games and three accessories per console. Moore said that was "twice the previous record" without naming a specific platform--or the fact most consoles were sold in preorder bundles with games included." [more