If these rumors are true, it looks like the format war will be over by the end of this year... at the latest.

According to The Digital Bits' Rumor Mill section, they've been getting word from various sources that the guillotine might come down on HD DVD's neck sooner than expected. Retail giant Best Buy will reportedly be totally phasing out the HD DVD format in their stores by the end of the 2nd quarter of 2008, thus making their stores completely Blu-Ray by the holiday season. The sales on HD DVD hardware are reportedly meant to clear the inventory off the shelves that won't be restocked.

Apparently Paramount and Universal are poised to make the Blu-Ray exclusive switch as well. The site expects Paramount to make the announcement to go Blu by mid-year or sooner, since they want to give HD DVD time to sell out their inventory. Universal is in a bit of a quandry, though, as they really have made no preperations to move to BD, and all of their video coding has to be completely re-done to switch to Blu-Ray. Apparently, Universal is asking the Blu-Ray Disc Association for help with this aspect, as part of their negotiations in switching over. They expect, at the very least, an announcement for switching to BD by the end of the year, perhaps sooner.

Mind you, all of this came from their Rumor Mill section, and nothing has been confirmed as of yet. We'll keep you posted as more developments come in.