Following Warner's departure from the HD-DVD ship last week, Microsoft is once again fielding questions regarding the future of its Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive add-on. As is consistent with comments made previously by Scott Henson and Peter Moore, the HD-DVD supporter is still open to a Blu-ray drive should Toshiba's high-definition film format meet its demise. Speaking to Reuters, Xbox's group marketing manager Albert Penello has called it "something we'll have to consider" if "consumer choice" demands it.

Microsoft's initial decision to keep HD-DVD separate from the Xbox 360 hardware has always been trotted out under the "consumer choice" banner, with cost reduction cited as an immediate benefit. Of course, it also makes bailing out a lot easier should white flags start to go up. It may seem strange to envision Microsoft supporting a format so entwined with a competing console, but the company's not likely to shed a tear for discs when there's money to be made in the Xbox Live Video Marketplace.

Update: A further comment from Microsoft emphasizes that despite Penello's comments, HD-DVD hasn't gone away just yet: "Microsoft currently has no plans at this time to consider Blu-ray as an option. We continue to believe that HD DVD is the best optical solution for consumers, since it's the only format today that delivers quality experiences at affordable prices."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.