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Rumour: Microsoft planning external HDD support

Leaked documentation suggests USB support to replace existing memory units

Rumours suggest that Microsoft may be planning a new firmware update that would allow external USB hard drives to be used with the Xbox 360.

The rumours began with website Joystiq, which claims to have received Microsoft documentation describing the new feature, having subsequently confirmed the details with other unnamed sources.

The document purports to have been authored by a senior software development engineer at Microsoft and states that due to "increased market penetration of high-capacity, high throughput USB mass storage devices, a 2010 Xbox 360 system update" will allow users to use USB devices for storage via an update due in spring 2010.

The update will allegedly allow users to download games, downloadable content and patches onto the device, just as they would for the 360's bespoke hard drives or memory units (MUs).

"USB storage devices may, however, have far greater memory capacity than MUs," states the document. "And may therefore support previously infeasible operations such as installation of a full disc-based title."

However, the documentation indicates that whatever the size of the USB device it would have its maximum useable storage capacity capped at 16GB.

If true this would presumably be an attempt to ensure that sales of Microsoft's highly profitable 360 hard drives are not adversely affected, even as the USB support removes the need for existing MUs.

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