Microsoft and Intel have gone public with their decision to join the HD DVD Supporters. Why this sudden change of stance after months of neutrality in this battle? How have they become from technology providers for both groups, sustainers of the HD DVD format?
The format of the next-generation of DVDs has started a long battle (some three years ago) between Toshiba and Sony, the key supporters in the HD DVD Promotion Group and Blu-ray Disc Association.
Leaving aside rivalries between the recent HD DVD sustainers and some of the members of the Blu-ray Disc Association, let us see how the technical part influenced this decision. The two giants have reportedly decided to back up the variant that is the most performant according to their criteria, from the point of view of consumer and industry requirements. And this is what Stephen Balogh, director of optical media standards and technologies at Intel declared: “We wanted to choose the format that has the highest probability of this market taking off".
Let us briefly review the main reference areas for performance analysis of optical format for high definition cited by Microsoft and Intel, and which are considered to be best represented by what HD DVD delivers:
- Managed copy, a first for DVDs - the consumer is allowed to make copies of discs to a hard drive or home server.
- Support for hybrid discs - a single disc can store both high-definition and standard-definition versions of a film, that can be read in both current DVDs and future players.
- Low-cost, high-volume manufacturing.
- Superior disc storage capacity.
- Higher interactivity standards - enhanced content, navigation and value-added functionality for high-definition films.
Naturally, the ideal situation (for consumers’ best interest) would be unifying the two formats. There were some brief talks on this between Sony and Toshiba earlier this year, but no outcome unfortunately.
Though the players for both formats will not be issued until spring next year, the rivalry between the two groups of supporting companies sharpens. Now, HD DVD sustainers have won a battle by getting as allies the world's largest software maker and the world's largest microchip maker, but the war is far from being over. Probably, as it normally should happen, the winners of this “war" will be designated in the end by the consumer. That is, may the best disc win!
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