Microsoft will begin selling in Japan next month an add-on 250GB hard-disk drive for the Xbox 360 console, it said Monday.

The drive will go on sale on March 11 and will cost ¥15,540 (US$172).

The unit has been available in the past as part of package deals, but never before as a stand-alone unit.

Microsoft has no current plans to put it on sale as a stand-alone unit outside of Japan, said Kei Iwasaki, a Microsoft spokesman in Tokyo.

The drive is used to store downloaded software, TV shows, movies and other content from Microsoft's Xbox Live Marketplace online store.

Rival Sony recently re-launched its PlayStation 3 console and includes a 120GB drive.

Last week Microsoft announced strong earnings, primarily on its Windows 7 roll out in the past quarter. Xbox 360 and PC game revenue dropped by 12 percent, or $295 million, however.