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Xbox and NBC pair up to offer movie rentals

Microsoft today announced a partnership with NBC Universal which will see films from Universal Pictures available to rent and watch at home through their Xbox 360 console using a broadband connection.

Recent releases such as The Bourne Supremacy and Shaun of the Dead will be available to rent alongside classics such as Brian de Palma's Scarface, in a move which takes the number of films offered through the service to over 300 .

The more involved Microsoft become in the on-demand market the more they will be in competition with Virgin Media and Sky, who both offer similar content through the set-top boxes used to provide their television services. Virgin Media offers BBC programming through the corporation's iPlayer service, while Sky Box Office allows viewers to watch recently-released films.

With the advantage of an already-established userbase comprising mainly of gamers, films from the Xbox Live service will be available to download for around £2.50 per movie, which, though it will remain on the hard disk drive for 14 days, must be completed within 24 hours of beginning the film.

Speaking at today's launch event, Microsoft's UK head of Xbox Neil Thompson said "[this] really seals our position as a major player in the mainstream home entertainment space."

Referring to another of today's announcements from the company, '1 vs. 100', a live quiz service which will allow families to compete with others around the country using the Xbox console, he added, "whilst still in its infancy, this signals the next chapter in the Xbox story, which is set to take home entertainment to a whole new level by putting the consumer in the driving seat of their own TV show."