Xbox 360 HD DVD Emulator – Now Free

UPDATE 3/18: The Xbox 360 HD DVD Emulator is no longer available.  For more information, please see: 

The Xbox 360 HD DVD Emulator is now available as a free download on Xbox Live Marketplace when you request a token at

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:  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.

Comments (26)
  1. The Xbox 360 HD DVD Emulator is now available as a free download on Xbox Live Marketplace when you request

  2. Microsoft may have thrown in the towel on HD-DVD, but they still believe that HDi which is very similar

  3. MHM says:

    Is the download free for everyone (every Tom, Dick and Harry) or is it limited to, lets say, content publishers or Studios?


  4. Amy Dullard says:

    Yep, open to everyone – just as HDiSim was

  5. Kez says:

    Sorry, but can I convert files from downloaded 720p episodes to HD DVD format and burn in a DVD to view in XBOX 360 using 720p?


  6. Heywood says:

    sux it needs the hd-dvd addon drive to work.

  7. Amy Dullard says:

    I suppose it depends on the file format.  Yes, you can use 720p content.  You would need to use one of the supported codecs like VC-1 or AVC and a muxer to create the EVOBs.  Oh, and of course rights to the content.

    Clarification – you can burn HD content to a red laser DVD-9, but you will still of course need an HD DVD drive to read it.  ("share" meaning "share with people who also have an Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on or a Toshiba HD DVD player)

  8. Tom says:

    Amy: and do i need the hddvd drive if i want to play hd-dvd content produced by myself streaming it from computer or reading it from some usb hard disk?

  9. Amy Dullard says:

    The software that plays the HD DVD content is on the add-on drive which is why it is required to do emulations.

  10. stevedawg says:

    can i download/rip full hd-dvd movies as .iso and run them through this software?

    what can a "normal joe" do w/ this?  

  11. Mehar says:

    Nice, I always wanted to test out this software, Amy, can a HDi interface be put onto a WMV HD file without making it a HD DVD file? Meaning will it still be a WMV HD file if the HDi layer is added.

  12. Amy Dullard says:

    The emulator is a tool for developers.  No, you will not be able to use it to play downloaded HD content or ripped content.  The emulator is a tool to test HDi applications and HD audio and video encodes.

  13. Amy Dullard says:

    No, WMV HD does not use HDi.  Once you write an HDi application, you will need to run it on software that understands HDi – a Toshiba HD DVD player, the Xbox 360 HD DVD player, the Xbox 360 HD DVD emulator, a HD DVD software player, or HDiSim.  WMV HD is a separate disc format.

  14. Mehar says:

    Amy: Alright thats all I needed to know, I sent in a email request, how long will it take and how will it be linked to my gamer tag?

  15. Amy Dullard says:

    Please bear with us as we sort through the huge number of request we’ve received (  I do not have a time estimate right now.  I will post more as I have information.

    The emulator software is not linked to a specific gamertag.  You will receive a token that will allow you to unlock access to the software on Xbox Live, just as you would with a game.

  16. Andreas says:

    Why not release the HD DVD emulator as open source?

    Microsoft has released the code of some things before.

  17. Amy Dullard says:

    Oh, dear…to answer this at this hour for risk of "what is she doing up at this hour" comments…oh, WTH…(btw, I’m a nerd like all the rest of you, I’m reading my email and surfing the interwebs, taking a break from Xbox)

    Well, I remind you that it is Microsoft.COM, not .ORG.  We are a for-profit company.  And, honestly, thank goodness because our fantastic chairman keeps giving away so much of his money that he has dropped 2 notches is the richest person in the world list.  Honestly, watching Bill talk about his foundation and how much good they can do when money is spent the right way is inspiring.

    The work that has gone into developing the Xbox 360 HD DVD emulator is proprietary and will be relevant to other applications.  Making our emulator software open source would obviously put us at a disadvantage in the exciting and up-and-coming area of entertainment interactivity.

    While the emulator software itself is not open source, both Peter and I have tried to publish as many samples as possible to inspire HDi developers.

  18. Kotaku says:

    In December, Microsoft released a $2,999 Xbox 360 HD DVD emulator that allowed developers to test HD DVD projects on the 360 from a USB drive or networked PC. It was an easy way to check how a project would…

  19. Tom says:

    Amy, you say:

    "The software that plays the HD DVD content is on the add-on drive which is why it is required to do emulations."

    Do you think there is any chance that in the future this software will be implemented into the xbox 360 dashboard too?

    I dont want to buy that already obsolete ugly piece of junk, even for 50$ 🙂

  20. Amy Dullard says:

    No, it is not being added to the dashboard.  HD DVD playback software added to the dashboard wouldn’t do you a whole lot of good without an HD DVD drive.

  21. Erwin van den Berg says:


    What version of the Xbox360 do I need? Can I go with the cheapest edition? I already have the addon drive.

  22. Erwin says:


    What version of the Xbox360 do I need? Can I go with the cheapest edition? I already have the addon drive.

  23. Amy Dullard says:

    You need an Xbox with a hard drive.  The Arcade version does not have a hard drive. Please see

  24. Mr. F says:

    Amy, I have the Xbox 360 HD DVD Emulator software installed on an Elite console using a 20 GB Hard Drive. I have been waiting for a couple of months for my Migration Kit to arrive to transfer content to the 120 GB Hard Drive.

    My question is: Will I have a problem using the Emulator software after transferring all of my content from the 20 GB to the 120 GB hard drive? (Will the emulator even transfer to the 120 GB after using the migration kit?)

    … and a small second question if I may: If I were to change my Gamer Tag (via the 800 MS Points offer), will I still be able to run the Emulator?

  25. Amy Dullard says:

    The emulator is bound to your console, not your gamertag, so changing your tag should not be a problem.

    Also, the console ID is not on your hard drive, so migrating to a new hard drive will also not be a problem.

  26. Erwin says:

    The link to does not work anymore …

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