Microsoft Technology Brings HD DVD to the Mainstream

Today at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft Corp. showcased the growing momentum behind HD DVD through its contribution of core technologies. Microsoft helped deliver the highest-quality video with the VC-1 codec, advanced interactivity with HDi™, and a streamlined and affordable platform for player manufacturers through the use of Microsoft® Windows® CE 6.0.

More than 150 HD DVD titles were authored this year with the VC-1 encoding tool, due to its outstanding picture quality. Titles such as "Batman Begins" from Warner Home Video, "King Kong" from Universal Studios Home Entertainment and "Mission: Impossible III" from Paramount Home Entertainment were all recognized by the industry for their reference quality while still allowing more room on the discs for advanced interactive features enabled by Microsoft's HDi technology. As an official SMPTE standard, VC-1 is already the codec of choice for three major Hollywood studios, and it is also being used for digital downloads by leading services including the Xbox Live® Marketplace for high-definition videos.

News source: MS Presspass

As Microsoft's implementation of the interactive layer in HD DVD, HDi immediately began delivering unprecedented and unique experiences for consumers when the format was launched in April 2006. Based on easy-to-program Web standards, HDi provides studios with a familiar and simple development environment, resulting in a digital canvas of unlimited possibilities. With interactivity support mandatory on all HD DVD players, HDi allows for advanced features that can play back on any production HD DVD player or drive. Titles such as "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" and "Miami Vice" have already received significant acclaim for their interactive experiences, from picture-in-picture director's commentary to graphical interfaces with tailored movie specifications, all available without stopping the movie playback experience. But these experiences are just the beginning; studios have announced plans to expand their interactive offerings in 2007 with Web-connected interactive experiences. The ability to download new trailers and share favorite bookmarked scenes with other HD DVD owners are just a few of the features.

"With HDi technology, we were able to take a new approach to creating a living-room experience that simply isn't possible with today's DVDs," said Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. "The HD DVD format is redefining not only what consumers should expect from the next generation of optical formats, but also how content creators approach the creative process of making movies. Microsoft's expertise and contributions will continue to aid in helping us realize the full potential of what can be done."

Also at CES today, Microsoft and Broadcom Corp. announced a joint effort to support a hardware and software reference design for more cost-efficient HD DVD playback. The new platform uses Microsoft Windows CE 6.0 and Broadcom's BCM7440 system-on-chip solution, allowing consumer electronics manufacturers, original design manufacturers and systems integrators to more easily and affordably deliver HD DVD playback. Several of the more innovative consumer electronics companies plan to use this new hardware and software platform to speed the production of HD DVD players, including Lite-On IT Corp., one of the most experienced systems integrators backing high-volume consumer electronics manufacturers, and Zhenjiang Jiangkui Group Co. Ltd./ED Digital, one of the largest, high-volume manufacturers of DVD players in China.

In addition, Microsoft is working with Meridian Audio Ltd. to build high-end HD DVD players for the enthusiast market.

"Our expertise in software, advanced video compression and systems integration is bringing the promise of HD DVD to a wider mainstream consumer audience," said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of the Consumer Media Technology Group at Microsoft. "Heading into 2007, Microsoft's commitment is to help our partners continue to bring the highest-quality content to consumers, help them push the envelope with interactivity, and continue to drive down manufacturing costs."

Microsoft technology is also powering the HDi capabilities in the first and second generation HD DVD players from Toshiba America Inc. and RCA Thomson, and the company continues to work with key software providers, including Sonic Solutions, CyberLink Corp., InterVideo Inc., Ulead Systems Inc. and Nero to allow for seamless playback on a variety of devices from set-top players to laptops and PCs.

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