When Microsoft first announced their intentions to back the underdog HD DVD format as the high definition format of the future, many insiders and press alike questioned the motives of the large software company. Microsoft doesn't own any film content to distribute and the one product which could have benefited from a larger capacity disc - the Xbox 360 - had already shipped with only DVD support. Most soon realized that Microsoft never wanted HD DVD to succeed, only to stall adoption of Blu-ray long enough for digital downloads to become a reality.
This, of course, was all speculation based on analysis of the situation, but it made perfect sense and was being reinforced by Microsoft's strong push for adding content to their Xbox Live digital distribution service. Recently, the UK newspaper The Guardian sat down with the Senior Regional Director, Northern Europe, Entertainment & Devices Division for Microsoft, Neil Thompson, and briefly discussed how he felt about Microsoft's decision to support HD DVD now that the format has died.
Oddly enough, he laughs off the question. "The horse that we're fundamentally backing is the one that says the future of entertainment content is online digital distribution. I would argue that we backed the right horse." He continued, "If we're sitting here in 12 or 18 months time, we'll be saying 'why were people even thinking about a disc format when it's really about digital distribution?' Our strategy's been developed for the last six or seven years, and ever since we launched the platform it [online content] has been our big, big, big bet."