HD DVD, the high-definition video format Microsoft was backing, felt four possibly fatal blows last week. Netflix, Best Buy and Wal-Mart...

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HD DVD, the high-definition video format Microsoft was backing, felt four possibly fatal blows last week.

Netflix, Best Buy and Wal-Mart all announced their support for the competitive format, Blu-ray Disc. Then the Hollywood Reporter quoted anonymous sources saying that even HD DVD’s prime backer, Toshiba, is expected to give up the format fight “sometime in the coming weeks.”

So where does that leave Microsoft, which sells a $130 add-on HD DVD player for its Xbox 360? Sony‘s PlayStation 3 has a built-in Blu-ray player.

We asked a spokeswoman with the PR firm that handles Xbox for comment on Microsoft’s plans if HD DVD should officially bite the dust. The company is sticking with it for now, but with caveats:

“Microsoft’s plans for HD DVD won’t change as long as they continue to see strong consumer interest and their partners remain committed. Sales of HD DVD players have remained brisk and there is a healthy catalog of more than 400 HD DVD titles offered at retail,” she wrote in an e-mail Friday.

What about the possibility of switching to a Blu-ray player as an add-on?

“[I]t’s too premature to say, but as Microsoft has long stated, Xbox is focused on delivering great high-definition experiences to consumers — whether it’s through HD gaming, digital downloads through Xbox Live Marketplace, optical media or IPTV.”

Well, that’s not a “no.”

Console talk

While we’re on the subject — and if you missed it last week — sales of the Sony PlayStation 3 appeared to have awakened from their slumber last month, actually selling more than Microsoft‘s Xbox 360, according to January figures from NPD. The score: 269,000 units versus 230,000 units.

Of course, Nintendo‘s Wii continued to best both, selling 274,000 units during the month.

The numbers overall were down from a year ago, but NPD analyst Anita Frazier says it’s less for slackened demand than dwindling supply.

“Given the huge number of hardware systems sold in December, inventory shortages could be the biggest contributor to the softer than expected sales,” she wrote in notes released with the monthly data.

That was the case for Microsoft, a spokeswoman said. “Our retailers are telling us that Xbox 360 is selling as fast as they can restock, but due to this high demand, Xbox 360 is experiencing temporary shortages,” she said. “We are working as quickly as we can to replenish inventory.”

Controlling chips

Diosdado Cabello, the governor of Venezuela’s Miranda state and a staunch ally of President Hugo Chávez, says that Luis Tascon, a leftist congressman who’s fallen out of grace with Chávez, is a “tool of the empire.” And the governor thinks Microsoft had something to do with his conversion to evil capitalism.

Tascon accused the governor’s brother of corruption. Then, the governor, in a news release last week, said “that congressman [Tascon] spent a month in Bill Gates’ offices, the richest man in the realm of information technology in the U.S.; maybe they injected a chip into his bloodstream.”

We’re guessing that Gov. Cabello meant that tongue-in-cheek.

But it’s a good indication of how clownish politics have become in revolutionary Venezuela (and how Microsoft is viewed there in some quarters).

On the record

Partnerships: SNAPin Software, the Bellevue mobile software developer, has won an agreement with wireless giant Vodafone to provide SelfService software for Vodafone handsets. … Comcast subsidiary thePlatform, a Seattle broadband video-management company, is partnering with Toronto-based Corus Entertainment to put Corus television programming on the Web.

New headquarters: All-Star Directories, a publisher of educational directories, is moving to World Trade Center on the Seattle waterfront from the Fremont neighborhood.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or biztech@seattletimes.com.