Microsoft has launched its Xbox 360 Movie download service in the UK ahead of Christmas, as previously promised.

The new offering, which is already available in the US, will launch in the UK on 11 December in partnership with Warner Bros.

The service will initially see films like 300, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Good German and much more available to download to rent.

Xbox 360 owners will be able to rent, but not buy, full-length films for 250 Microsoft Points (around £2) for Standard Definition movies and from 380 Microsoft Points (around £3) for High Definition movies.

The move, which puts the offering ahead of Apple and download services in the UK, will give Microsoft a stronger foothold into the HD battle currently between Blu-ray and HD DVD.

"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."

Microsoft is hoping to tap into the lucrative video download market, which some analyses believe will be worth 350m Euro by 2012, up from just 17m Euro this year.

Xbox 360 gamers in the launch countries can access Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store with either an Xbox Live Silver or Gold membership and a broadband connection.