Less than a week after Toshiba officially pulled the plug on its HD DVD next-generation optical disc format, Microsoft has predictably announced it will end production of the external HD DVD drive for its Xbox 360 gaming console – though it will continue to offer warranty support for the peripheral.

The drive was intended as Microsoft’s answer to Sony’s PlayStation 3 integrated Blu-ray disc drive and represented around 30 percent of the one million HD DVD devices that were sold worldwide. That number, however, compares unfavorably with the estimated 10+ million PS3 units sold by Sony.

Now that HD DVD players are firmly out of the way, speculation is mounting on whether Microsoft will finally make available a Blu-ray add-on for its Xbox 360 console or instead focus on increasing high-definition downloads on its Xbox Live service. Guess we’ll just have to wait for an official announcement.