If you aren't wearing your tin-foil hat, you might want to go get it before reading any further.
Now that you have your tin-foil hat, we'll issue a not-too subtle warning that this as a wild rumor/allegation and it could easily fall under the heading of 'crackpot' theories despite having a big Hollywood name attached to it. Microsoft may have manipulated the next generation disc format wars in an attempt to make downloading more popular.
The theory contends that HD DVD was losing the war against Blu-Ray, and that Microsoft threw their support behind the standard in an attempt to make any standard adoption less likely to happen. Even Transformers directory Michael Bay seems to believe this to be the case:
“The producer contends that Microsoft is writing "$100 million dollar checks" to movie studios to ensure HD DVD exclusives that hurt the overall market regardless of the format's actual merit or its popularity, preventing any one format from gaining a clear upper hand. Bay's own Transformers is available on disc only in the less popular HD DVD format despite his stated preference for Blu-ray. To the director, this is primarily a stalling tactic while Microsoft refines its own online-only technology.”
We've stated in the past that the format wars may have left the door wide open for download-on-demand services to strike down both Blu-Ray and HD DVD, but we're not entirely sure we believe that this is some plot masterminded by MS.
If, on the off chance that this theory is correct, it's entirely possibly that we'd owe Microsoft a debt of gratitude despite their alleged manipulation.