Microsoft today launched its Xbox 360 Movie download service for Xbox 360 owners in the UK. The new service enables Xbox 360 owners to download TV shows and movie rentals.

As recently announced by Macworld, the Microsoft Live Marketplace service offers high-definition as well as standard definition movie downloads. Unlike Apple, with the iTunes store, Microsoft has implemented a rental scheme that uses DRM technology to disable a movie after it has been watched.

Films cost a thoroughly reasonable 250 ‘points’ (£2.13) in standard definition and 380 ‘points’ (£3.23) for high-definition versions. Users add ‘points’ to their Xbox Live Marketplace via a credit card (or by purchasing vouchers in shops).

This could cause a major headache for Apple and its floundering Apple TV system. Apple still only offers a small number of TV Shows for sale in the UK, all in standard definition. The Apple TV didn't get off to a flying start, if this report is to be believed; and with Microsoft offering high definition rental downloads in the UK, there are even fewer reasons to purchase an Apple TV.

"We want to give them the entertainment they want, in the format they want, when they want it and at an affordable price", said Robin Truchy, director of Xbox LIVE for Europe, Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division. "Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store in Europe is all about adding to the ever-expanding number of entertainment choices that our consumers have on their Xbox 360."

Although Microsoft's launch line-up certainly leaves a lot to be desired, it's very much a step in the right direction. We can only hope that Apple follows suit and launches a similar system in the UK.

Microsoft's launch titles include:

300
ANALYZE THIS
CLASH OF THE TITANS
DEAD CALM
DEMOLITION MAN
ERASER
EYES WIDE SHUT
EXECUTIVE DECISION
FUGITIVE, THE
HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE
HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS
LETHAL WEAPON 3
LETHAL WEAPON 4
LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION
MARS ATTACKS!
MATRIX, THE
MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, THE
MATRIX RELOADED, THE
OCEAN'S ELEVEN
PERFECT STORM, THE
RISKY BUSINESS
SPACE COWBOYS
SWORDFISH
SUPERMAN III
THREE KINGS
TRAINING DAY
ZODIAC