Microsoft to Support Writable DVD Formats

Microsoft Thursday pledged to support all major writable DVD formats in Windows XP, or Longhorn.

The Redmond, Wash. software firm said its “increased writable support” means users will have more options to back up data and exchange digital audio, pictures and video files between personal computers and consumer electronics devices.

Microsoft made the announcement at its Windows Hardware Engineering
Conference (WinHEC) conference in New Orleans, saying the OS support will cover DVD-RAM, DVD-RW/-R and DVD+RW/+R formats. The support will let users with a compatible drive to work with any of their existing writable DVDs used as a data storage medium; users will not need to download additional drivers to ensure compatibility.

Microsoft previously only supported the DVD+MRW (Mt. Rainier) format, as well as the DVD-RAM format in Windows XP, although Microsoft has included built-in support for DVD devices in its OS since Windows 98, with driver support under the Windows Driver Model.

“This is in keeping with Microosft’s on-going efforts to make it easier to
produce, process and distribute multimedia content digitally,” said Interactive Media Strategies Founder Steve Vonder Haar. “It will be interesting to see how Microsoft reconciles the seemingly conflicting notions of easy video recording with tight DRM capabilities. But Microsoft has been ahead of the curve in addressing DRM concerns, so the two concepts should be able to co-exist under the Windows Media umbrella.”

Microsoft has redoubled its efforts to make the personal computer the focus of households’ home media center despite industry experts downplaying this possibility. The latest move to provide more options for those inclined to burn content onto DVDs was telegraphed when the the software giant agreed to expand the
HighMAT (High-Performance Media Access Technology) specifications to support all major writable DVD media formats.

Jointly developed
by Microsoft and Panasonic, HighMAT provides higher quality audio and video
for users and makes organizing and accessing photos, music and video on
storage media such as CDs and DVDs easier and faster.

“We are committed to making it as easy as possible for our customers to
write to and play DVDs on their PCs,” said Tom Phillips, general manager of
the Windows Hardware Experience Group at Microsoft Corp., in a statement. “With support for
all the major writable DVD formats, users will find it much easier, less
costly and more efficient to back up personal data, transfer files between
PCs and share personally edited video on DVD-Video.”

The news comes a day after Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer
wrote in an e-mail to customers that data protection and antipiracy locks
for businesses are high priorities for the company. Ballmer detailed the
outfit’s plans for digital rights management services, an extension of its
Windows DRM technology.

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