UPDATE 3/18: The Xbox 360 HD DVD Emulator is no longer available. For more information, please see: http://blogs.msdn.com/amyd/archive/2008/03/18/tokens-gone.aspx
The Xbox 360 HD DVD Emulator is now available as a free download on Xbox Live Marketplace when you request a token at http://www.thisishddvd.com/emulator/.
Why is it free now?
This decision was made in light of Toshiba's recent announcement that they are discontinuing their HD DVD business. The reasons for offering the emulator for free are two-fold.
Microsoft is committed to interactivity and giving content authors the ability to create more compelling entertainment experiences. The specification for HDi was developed with significant input from studios like Warner Bros. and Disney based on scenarios they desired in the next generation format. Offering the emulator for free allows a greater audience to experiment with interactivity with little to no cost.
Second, the emulator beta program had approximately 80 participants across the industry who relied on the emulator for testing HDi content. Continued access to the emulator will assist those post houses and developers in completing their outstanding HD DVD projects.
What about the people who already purchased the emulator?
They will be issued gift certificates redeemable at the Microsoft Store. I'm kidding, of course! That would be completely lame - who would do that? Complete refunds will be issued to those who previously paid the full price for the emulator.
What can I do with this?
The Xbox 360 HD DVD Emulator is a development and test tool that allows you to run complete HD DVD projects - video, audio, and advanced interactivity - on your Xbox 360 from an external USB drive or networked PC. If you're interested in learning more about HDi and how to create your first HDi application, start in the April 2007 section of this blog and work your way forward.
If you're interested in a tool for muxing video to test on the emulator, be sure to check out NetBlender's DoStudio MX. They also have a demo project that you can run on the emulator.
Note that you do not need to have video in your project, though. Your playlist may contain titles without PrimaryAudioVideoClip(s).
Once you have your project looking just the way you want, you can burn it to a DVD-9 and share it. More info on burning DVD-9s can be found here: http://dostudio.netblender.com/wikipapers/wiki_dvdr.asp. FYI, I use a Pioneer DVD burner, Gear Pro Professional software, and Verbatim discs. [follow up: the burner and software I have used successfully are not mentioned on NetBlender's wiki, so I mention them so people know what I have used to create discs that work on the Xbox and Toshiba players]
What doesn't it do?
The emulator does not allow you to play ripped retail titles on your Xbox or your PC. The emulator runs on your Xbox 360, it does not run on a PC. It will also not do your laundry.
Do I need an Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive to use this?
Yes! Yes you do! The HD DVD playback software required by the Xbox 360 is on the add-on drive, so you will need an add-on drive to use the emulator. But, lucky you, they are now available for $50. Sweet.