Japan's chief of Xbox operations, Yoshihiro Maruyama, has confirmed that while a HD-DVD version of the Xbox 360 console is a possibility, the next-generation DVD standard will never be used for games on the platform.

Maruyama's comments were made in an interview with Famitsu Xbox, translated by US website GameSpot, where he expanded on a statement made by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates back in June regarding the potential for a HD-DVD enabled Xbox 360.

"It's a possibility, but it won't have any relationship to gaming," Maruyama said.

"If the Xbox 360 uses a next-generation DVD drive in the future, it will only be used for watching movies that run on next-generation DVDs."

His statement is simply confirmation of what many commentators had already said - that Microsoft can't change the media it's shipping games on halfway through the life cycle of a console, leaving owners of the DVD version unable to play HD-DVD games.

However, it's telling that Maruyama used the phrase "next-generation DVD" rather than HD-DVD specifically. In recent weeks, several supporters of the HD-DVD standard - which is being pushed by Toshiba and its partners - have defected to the camp of rival standard Blu-Ray, which was developed by Sony and will be used by the PlayStation 3.

Microsoft, however, remains a staunch supporter of HD-DVD, for the stated reason that the specification allows for the contents of a disc to be securely "ripped" to another storage device in the consumer's home - such as a Windows Media Centre PC.

The support of the software giant hasn't extended to putting HD-DVD drives in the Xbox 360 though (not least because they probably wouldn't have been ready in time for launch), and is unlikely to carry as much weight as the support of the key Hollywood studios - most of whom appear to be falling in line behind the Blu-Ray banner at present.

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