Microsoft backs cheaper, less sophisticated, lower capacity HD DVD over Apple-backed Blu-ray format

“Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp., the leading suppliers of chips and software for most of the world’s personal computers, are throwing their support behind the next-generation DVD standard known as HD DVD,” Matthew Fordahl reports for The Associated Press. “After taking a neutral stance for months in the battle between the competing HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats, the companies said Tuesday they have joined the HD DVD Promotion Group that includes Toshiba Corp., Universal Studios and others.”

“The move means upcoming PCs running Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Vista operating system or Intel’s Viiv entertainment technology will come with support for HD DVD drives,” Fordahl reports. “‘We want to make sure that whatever is put out on the market is going to be as consumer friendly as possible from the price and usability point of view,’ said Blair Westlake, vice president of Microsoft’s Media/Entertainment and Technology Convergence Group.”

Fordahl explains, “Blu-ray technology can be licensed by any company anywhere in the world. Supporters of Blu-ray have claimed they have a more sophisticated technology with a greater storage capacity. HD DVD companies have pointed to the fact that their offering will be available sooner and at less cost — an argument disputed by the Blu-ray group.”

MacDailyNews Take: What a shocker! Well, maybe not so much. Imagine, Apple and Sony on the side of the better technology while Microsoft chooses to go with the cheap, second-rate “solution.” How typical is that?

The bottom line? Xbox 360 (HD DVD) vs. PlayStation 3 (Blu-ray).

[Notes: Blu-ray Disc supports the highest quality HD video available in the industry (up to 1920 x 1080 at 40 Mbit/sec). Blu-ray capacity: 50GB vs. 30GB for HD DVD disks.]

Companies supporting Blu-ray: http://www.blu-raydisc.com/Section-13469/Index.html
Companies supporting HD DVD: http://www.hddvdprg.com/about/member.html

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Twentieth Century Fox joins Apple, Dell, HP, others to support Blu-ray Disc format – July 29, 2005
Poll shows Apple-backed Blu-ray preferred by consumers over HD DVD for next-gen DVD standard – July 14, 2005
Microsoft allies with Toshiba on HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray Disc backers Apple and Sony – June 27, 2005
Apple joins Blu-ray Disc Association Board of Directors – March 10, 2005

61 Comments

  1. Both HD DVD and Blu ray DVD will never take off as far as Hollywood movies are concerned. The studios are too paranoid to provide a simple user experience thus the delay in introducing HD DVD this fall as had been planned. Early adopters are being burned for having purchased Hi Def tvs that won’t play these new discs in full resolution. Apple will come in with an awesome solution of course, and save the day! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  2. Microsoft is being clever. Whatever format prevails, they intend to profit from it.

    Apple shouldn’t let iteself be seduced by yet another format war, but that’s what vertical integration leads to: Getting hung up on formats.

  3. Goodness, MS picks something that will be cheaper for the end user?! How dare they?! Actually, I like a company that is looking out for my dollars.

    Also, the honest truth is is that most people have gone out and purchased widescreen EDTV’s, not HD, and for the most part, they think they are watching HD!!! So, I can understand the bigger is better (disc capacity, 1080p) argument, but the thing is is that it’s not playing out that way. I’ve seen SD, ED, and 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. My (and from reports, a large portion of consumers) “entertainment bell curve” peaks somewhere in between ED and 720p. So, the HD-DVD backing would make sense to me. I’m not paying extra (Blu-Ray) for something I can’t really perceive that well.

  4. When recollecting VHS vs. BetaMax, forget Macs vs. Windows or iPods vs. everyone else.

    This is going to be the next REAL big battle. Whatever happens in the computer market will percolate down to consumer DVD players.

  5. This is Beta vs VHS all over again.

    Apple vs Microsoft
    PS3 vs Xbox 360

    I think that history will repeat itself and HD-DVD will win the battle. Mainly because it is the cheaper solution, HD-DVD discs can be produced on existing mass producing machines. This is cheaper for the Hollywood studios, therefore will most likely win, especially now with the backing of two major tech heavyweights.

  6. what MDN fails to mention is that HD DVD disks will play in your current DVD player (albeit at a lower resolution). Blu-Ray disks will not. If you want to watch a Blu Ray DVD, you need to buy a new player. So, given this detail, it’s pretty easy to say that MS/Toshiba/Intel are being sensitive to the fact that consumers won’t want/can’t afford to buy another DVD player, and Apple/Sony are being jerks for requiring consumers to lay out more cash on more hardware.

  7. Once again MDN is perpetuating the myth that HD-DVD is inferior technology. Blue Ray is the MiniDisc of next-generation video and I hope it suffers the same fate. Thank you SONY for another format war.

  8. @ Confused:

    The simple answer is no.

    And the more complex answer is that DVD (as we currently know it is) is driven by a red laser, and Blu-ray/HD-DVD, as the former’s name implies, is driven by higher frequency/shorter wavelength “blue” lasers which can hit smaller pits with greater accuracy increasing storage density, thus facilitating high-definition video content.

  9. Here’s yet another ‘Apple Can Do No Wrong’ story from MDN. Look, BluRay has some incredible capacity potential, but the key word is “potential”. I was recently surprised to learn that the consortium that makes BluRay hasn’t actually made anything yet demonstrating their dual layer numbers, while HD-DVDs are out their with 15 and 30 Gig versions.

    Furthermore, the costs for ramping up the entire disk manufacturing industry towards BluRay is likely going to be in the billions of dollars … and who do you think is eventually going to have to pay for that? HD-DVD manufacturing technology is so similar to the present DVD infrastructure, that the projected transition costs are only a couple of million – chickenfeed, comparatively speaking. Plus you can make both regular DVDs and HD-DVDs on the same manufacturing lines; meaning that the actual numbers of either disk made can be ‘fine-tuned’ according to what the market is showing it wants.

    With BluRay, it’s an ‘all-or-nothing’ proposition; the start-up costs are so high, the producers will try to push for it’s adoption ASAP just to make up their investment. Yet, if people wind up not wanting BluRay (disks and/or players being too expensive, not enough HDTVs out their to take advantage of the format’s advantages, simple market inertia etc …), then everyone’s left with quite a conundrum. The resultant financial losses will be catastrophic for these companies, and the costs of DVD disks will likely go up as well, since there will be less manufacturing capacity left to produce them (once a manufacuring line goes to BluRay, there’s no cost effective way of going back).

    Finally, the one poster above is only sort of right, when he says HD-DVDs will play in present players. In fact, HD-DVDs are based on blue laser technology too, so to get the high def content you will need a different player. However, because of the manufacturing similarities the HD-DVD disks can easily be made with a regular DVD layer on one side. So essentially they are dual-standard/dual-layer disks (15Gb HD-DVD on one side, 4.7Gb DVD on the other). BluRay might be able to do the same thing, but again – since the manufacturing technology is so different, you would have to make the BluRay layer in one location, then move the disk to another manufacturing line to apply the DVD layer … the logistics involved, as well as maintaining two distinct manufacuring lines, would increase the costs of an already more expensive disk even further.

    You can find a good article on the subject here:
    http://arstechnica.com/articles/paedia/hardware/next-gen-dvd.ars
    “The Economics of the Next Generation DVD Formats”

    I think BluRay is a boutique technology. It’s got some great high capacity abilities, but HD-DVD could legitimately be seen as ‘good enough’ in that comparison, with at least one ability BluRay doesn’t yet have (dual format disks) thanks to its inherent manufacturing advantages, which would itself make an easier transition for everyone – producer and consumer alike. Plus, the financial numbers involved in making it a follow-on standard to DVD are not good when compared to HD-DVD.

    It’s unfortunate, but Apple probably picked the wrong horse on this one. And MDN should stop the cheerleading on this technical issue just because it’s Apple’s ‘baby’ – they’re doing nothing but obfusicating the real issues and problems at stake in creating the follow on to DVD.
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