Microsoft, Intel Back HD DVD

Microsoft and Intel on Monday threw their weight behind the
next-generation HD DVD format being promoted by Toshiba in an evident
blow to Sony’s Blu-ray format. The world’s largest software
manufacturer and the world’s largest microchip maker announced that
their products would support Toshiba’s HD DVD format. They said the HD
DVD format would make it easier for consumers to copy high-definition
movies to computer hard drives.

Next-generation DVD discs, designed to store movies and other
content with much more detail and clarity, have sparked a three-year
battle between Toshiba and Sony over what is expected to be a
multibillion-dollar market for next-generation DVD players, PC drives
and optical discs. “We wanted to choose the format that has the
highest probability of this market taking off,” said Stephen Balogh,
director of optical media standards and technologies at Intel.

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“Microsoft and Intel have tremendous clout,” said In-Stat analyst
Gerry Kaufhold, saying that their backing would likely give HD DVD an
edge over Blu-ray, especially in North America, their strongest
markets. The move comes with little surprise, as the PlayStation 3,
which will support Blu-ray technology, prepares to launch next year
against Microsoft’s Xbox 360, a system that Microsoft hasn’t ruled out
might use HD DVD technology in the future.

The battle over next-generation DVD formats is far from over,
Kaufhold said, noting support in Hollywood for Blu-ray. Several
studios, including Walt Disney, Sony Pictures (surprise, surprise) and
News Corp.’s unit Twentieth Century Fox, have said that they will
release high-definition movies on Blu-ray. Universal Studios, a unit
of General Electric’s NBC Universal, and Viacom’s Paramount Pictures
are backing HD DVD.

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