Microsoft will sell its Xbox 360 Elite games console and offer Xbox Live video downloads across Europe -- includung the UK -- starting later this year, a company executive announced at the E3 Media & Business Summit.
Xbox Live users in the US can currently download movies and TV shows in either standard or high-definition format, and Microsoft plans to make that service more widely available.
"Starting this fall, we're going global with high-definition downloads in Canada and Europe," said Jeff Bell, global marketing manager at Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, speaking at a press conference. Video of the press conference was carried live over the Internet.
Bell did not offer a date for when high-definition video downloads will start in these markets, but he offered one clue. Microsoft will start selling the Xbox 360 Elite version of the games console, which has a 120GB hard disk, in Europe on August 24, Bell said. By comparison, the Xbox 360 console has a 20GB hard disk.
Bell didn't disclose European pricing for the Xbox 360 Elite, which is priced at $479 (around) £235in the U.S..
Xbox Live currently offers 2,000 hours of video content for download, including 500 hours of high-definition content, Bell said, noting Microsoft has earned $125 million (£61 million) in revenue from video downloads on Xbox Live.
The amount of video on offer via Xbox Live will increase through a partnership between Microsoft and Disney, which has signed a deal to make its animated features and mainstream movies available for download, Bell said, announcing that the first movies are currently available for download in the US.