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Warner The Latest on Blu-ray Bandwagon

The curtain may be falling on HD-DVD.

Just days after a leading high-tech research firm declared Blu-ray the victor in the optical disc format war, Warner Bros. Entertainment Thursday said it would release movies in the Blu-ray format.

Warner Bros., owned by Time Warner, said it will still support HD-DVD, which is backed by a consortium led by Toshiba and includes support from Microsoft and Intel.

But embracing Blu-ray, which is backed by a Sony-led group that includes HP and Dell, broadens the support for Blu-ray to an extreme.

The move leaves Universal Studios the lone studio that hasn't signed on to support Blu-ray. Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., The Walt Disney Co. and Sony Pictures Entertainment support the Blu-ray format.

Paramount Pictures made a similar move earlier this month, expanding its support of optical disk formats to both Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

Movie studios claim they are supporting both in order to narrow the divide between the two formats. Tech vendors are pulling similar moves to ensure that the industry avoids another media format akin to the VHS and Betamax nightmare of the 1980s.

Earlier this week, HP asked the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) to include two technologies already supported in HD-DVD in the Blu-ray format specification.

Such moves could lead to overwhelming endorsements of Blu-ray that it becomes the default standard for the industry.

Blu-ray and HD-DVD use blue lasers that have a shorter wavelength than the red lasers used in current DVD players. This allows discs to store data at the higher densities needed for high-definition TV.

While DVD players equipped with either format aren't expected until 2006, Forrester Research has already tabbed Blu-ray the winner, citing greater capacity and Java support, as well as its ability to be used in games and computers.

HD-DVD supporters believe they have an advantage because they will get to the market earlier with their players and their discs.

Toshiba said in a statement late on Thursday that it was still working with Warner Bros. on the commercial launch of HD-DVD.

"We recognize Warner Bros.'s participation in the Blu-ray Disc Association represents the studio's understandable commitment to listen to broad array of opinions and to continue to make technical evaluations of each format, and we are more than confident this will not affect timely introduction of HD DVD content to the market," Toshiba said.