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Ballmer Talks Natal, Says Blu-ray Add-On for Xbox Coming

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In the first segment of our exclusive Steve Ballmer interview series, the Microsoft CEO and I talk about Natal, the blurring of console generations, and the surprising assertion that "you'll be able to get" Blu-ray add-on drives for Xbox 360.

When I asked Ballmer about adding Blu-ray to the Xbox, he said:

Well I don't know if we need to put Blu-ray in there—you'll be able to get Blu-ray drives as accessories.

Though he says it with certitude, the timing of any kind of Blu-ray accessory is unclear. Could he have mispoken? Certainly. However, when I asked Xbox spokespeople about Ballmer's revelation, they responded:

Our immediate solution for Blu-ray-quality video on an Xbox 360 is coming this fall with Zune Video and 1080p instant-on HD streaming. As far as our future plans are concerned, we're not ready to comment.


Microsoft PR is good — we trust them to say no if they're not making one, and in this case, the best strategy is a "no comment". Which turns out to be a comment.


Of course, his Blu-ray comment may not mean that Microsoft is coming out with an external drive—he may have just been shooting down the idea that the Xbox 360 will ever have an internal Blu-ray drive, by saying that any Blu-ray the Xbox gets would have to be external. On the other hand he did actually say, "You'll be able to get Blu-ray drives as accessories."

As you can see in our back-and-forth, Ballmer plays his cards close to the chest, but in my sit-down interview with him, he shared a lot. Prior to the Blu-ray business, Ballmer and I talked about Natal, and the excitement that Matt and Mark experienced when they stepped into the chamber back at E3. When I asked him if Natal was Microsoft's attempt to do away with concept of game console generations (thereby prolonging the life of a given platform indefinitely), Ballmer smiled knowingly and said "We'll see."


Stay tuned for more exciting Ballmer moments (and facial expressions) over the next day, and then the full uncut interview video on Friday. Video by Mike Short


Steve Ballmer Exclusive Interview Series:
Part 1: Ballmer Talks Natal, Says Blu-ray Add-On for Xbox Coming
Part 2: Ballmer on the Smartphone Race: "It Doesn't Matter What the Critics Say"
Part 3: Ballmer on Zune: Sometimes You Get It Right The Third Time?