With Sony’s new Blu-ray disc format (to be used in the PlayStation 3), and Toshiba's HD-DVD format (not yet confirmed for use in any console) still fighting it out in the next generation DVD format war, Hewlett-Packard has opened a new front in the conflict. A staunch supporter of Blu-ray, Hewlett-Packard executives have nonetheless called for additional features to be added to the format’s functionality list, in the continuation of discussions which potentially impact the video game market in a major way.
The company asked the Sony-led Blu-ray Disc Association to include a feature known as “mandatory managed copy”, which allows PC users to copy high definition movies onto PCs from discs and distribute them across home networks. A feature called iHD was also requested, which provides for new interactive features and is to be implemented in the new Windows Vista operating system. Both features are already supported by Toshiba’s Microsoft backed HD-DVD format.
"We're still supporting Blu-ray but we're very serious that we want these technologies. If in the end, they're supported in one and then not the other, we'll have to make a choice," said Maureen Weber, general manager of personal storage in Hewlett-Packard's personal systems group in an interview with Reuters. If the two features are implemented into Blu-ray, then it will help the format significantly in its war with HD-DVD.
However, Bill Gates himself has spoken out further in favor of HD-DVD recently, saying in an interview with The Daily Princetonian that he believed the protection scheme under Blu-ray, important to prevent piracy of video games and movies, to be “very anti-consumer”.
According to Gates: “The inconvenience is that the [movie] studios got too much protection at the expense consumers and it won't work well on PCs. You won't be able to play movies and do software in a flexible way. If [the Blu-ray group] would fix that one thing, you know, that'd be fine.”
If his comments are taken at face value, then the introduction of the mandatory managed copy feature could see Microsoft dropping its objections to the format. However, some analysts are suggesting that the company’s support of the HD-DVD format is at least in part due to not wishing to promote a Sony format, especially one which will form a key part of the PlayStation 3 console, a rival to Microsoft's Xbox 360.