Posted by: kurtsh | October 1, 2005

NEWS: More on Intel & Microsoft’s decision to support HD-DVD

Here’s a few more articles on the topic of DVD formats that may help clarify to the "50GB! I want 50GB!" crowd why we are throwing our support behind HD-DVD.
There’s an analysis of this news highlighting consumer choice around the topic of DVD formats:
There’s also an article the goes over the issue of next gen DVD media durability and the economics of disk protection which frankly makes one wonder why there is even a discussion:
The question was posed as to "why do we care" or "why is Intel & Microsoft concerned about hardware"?  The answer was given by one the guys working on this stuff up in Redmond.  (I’ve paraphrased some of what he said so that it’s not precisely his words, to keep him anonymous)
We care because this really isn’t about just drivers any more, like some not close to the situation might think.  Yes, we need drivers but providing support for HD on disc is a software discussion because you need some serious software technology to display two 1080p/720p video streams with "frame-accurate animated interactivity".  (See below for an explanation of why this is necessary)
Yes, one could use the recordable versions to do data backups and that’s cool – never mind that NEITHER format has enough capacity to backup >300GB hard discs that are quickly becoming the standard hard drives out there today.   But the really big deal is how movies are distributed in a disc format and how that might be interesting and attractive to consumers. 
Let’s say you were a typical Mom & Pop consumer:  Can you imagine repurchasing all your existing DVD’s as HD-DVDs?  Sure – maybe some of the blockbusters out there like the Matrix and Star Wars, but with other movies, it’s not as likely.  Well, the movie studios know this and they’re really trying hard to make the experience much more immersive that what we have today. 
For example, how many times have you been listening to the director’s commentary and the director says “Did you see the alien at the top left of the screen and how it didn’t render properly?”  Well of course I didn’t you reply… it’s NOT THERE ANY MORE.  But if I had director’s commentary that could actually show display video overlays that allowed a directory to draw on the screen around the alien, you could make a much more interactive commentary.  (For those of you who remember it, image a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 overlay over Ghostbusters.)
Again, this is far more than just firmware.   The HD DVD spec is huge covering everything from the disc format all the way through to the software stack (including video and iHD).  Microsoft & Intel care because we care about providing customers with the best software experience.  HD DVD provides that and we believe Blu Ray doesn’t.


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