Will the Xbox 720 allow Blu-ray movie playback?

Once, long ago, in a console cycle far, far away, Microsoft championed the HD DVD format while Sony backed Blu-ray.

For a while we had two different high-definition movie formats on the market, but ultimately Blu-ray pummeled HD DVD into submission.

Many Xbox 360 owners undoubtedly hoped that Microsoft would be rolling out an add-on Blu-ray player for their console so they could continue to enjoy high-definition movies, but that never happened. Now that everyone is waiting on the next generation Xbox game console, most assume the machine will undoubtedly arrive with a Blu-ray drive.

This assumption makes sense, especially considering how large the file size on modern video games is today, with future titles expected to be more complex, requiring even more space – making Blu-ray support all but assured. However, The Next Xbox reports that there’s a very good chance Microsoft might block the ability to play Blu-ray movies.

Your first instinct may be to blow off the claim and assume it’s nothing more than Xbox haters propagating a rumor. Then again, one can’t help bu recall that when the original Xbox launched Microsoft blocked DVD playback by default out-of-the-box. You had to purchase a special adapter which was packaged with a remote control to be able to play DVDs  -allowing Microsoft to squeeze even more money out of their customers.

The reason offered by The Next Xbox to support the notion idea that Redmond will block Blu-ray playback for movies certainly makes some sense. Remember, Microsoft makes a considerable pile of cash from Xbox Live Gold memberships which allow users to access streaming content. So the software giant may be somewhat reluctant to allow high-definition movie playback by default out of fear that support for HD movies may keep users from subscribing to Xbox Live Gold.

What do you think? Will the next Xbox support Blu-ray movie playback? Personally, I think console owners are going to expect support for Blu-ray movies and Microsoft will have to offer it.