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Microsoft Is Last Hope For HD-DVD’s Survival

by David Mercer | 2月 18, 2008

As Toshiba considers giving the last rites to the HD-DVD format, the last major objector is likely to be Microsoft. As Strategy Analytics has noted in its research many times, Microsoft's strategic objection to Blu-ray Disc stems from its use of Sun's Java technology as the basis for its interactive applications. There is nothing inherent in the disc format itself that would prevent Microsoft offering a BD drive, for example, as an add-on to the Xbox 360. Likewise, BD drives are available for Windows XP and Vista PCs, although support for the BD format is not native to either OS: users must install a third-party application such as Cyberlink's PowerDVD Ultra in order to watch BD movies. Significantly perhaps, Microsoft also never included native support for HD-DVD in its Media Center platforms. Toshiba would be unlikely to withdraw from HD-DVD completely without Microsoft's approval unless it wants to risk upsetting a key strategic partner. Microsoft's decision will hinge on three key questions: - Does it need to support a high definition disc format at all? - Could HD-DVD still survive purely as a PC format? - Could Microsoft realistically support BD without supporting Java? There are doubtless many Microsofters who believe the disc content business model is dying anyway, given the success of its Xbox Live HD video download service and the explosion in web-based HD content. Realistically, however, it will be a few years yet before broadband and the internet infrastructure can support HD streaming and downloading on an equivalent global scale to a disc platform. We have previously argued that there is no reason HD-DVD could not continue as a PC format, even as it was always bound to fail in set-tops. The dynamics of the PC industry mean that dual-format drives could become cost-effective relatively quickly if there was sufficient support from manufacturers. But it seems inevitable now, given the tidal wave of support for BD, that HD-DVD will lose support from any remaining hangers-on, so there seems little need even for dual formats in PCs. So can Microsoft ever live with Java? Our conversations with the company suggest a resounding No. So if BD drives are going to appear for the Xbox 360, as some rumours suggest, they will either not include Java, or will be developed by third parties. Either that, or a remarkable declaration of peace is about to break out between two old IT enemies. One way or another, Microsoft is HD-DVD's last hope for survival. Client Reading: High Definition TV and Video Devices: Global Market Forecast Add to Technorati Favorites
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