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Tuesday, September 27, 2005, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)

MS and Intel back HD DVD over Blu-ray

Microsoft and Intel on Monday threw their support towards the next-generation HD DVD format being promoted by the DVD Forum, pitting themselves against Apple and other electronics manufacturers that have so far sided with Sony's competing Blu-ray format.

According to Macworld UK, the world's largest software maker and the world's largest microchip maker announced their support for HD-DVD by joining the HD-DVD Promotion Group, an industry organization set up to promote adoption of the optical disc format.

Other members of the group include electronics makers NEC, Sanyo and Toshiba, as well as content providers Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures. The company's say the HD DVD format would make it easier for consumers to copy high-definition movies to computer hard drives.

The format of next-generation DVD discs, designed to store movies and other content with much more detail and clarity, have sparked a three-year battle between the DVD Forum and Sony, over what is expected to be a multi-billion-dollar market for next-generation DVD players, PC drives and optical discs, according to Reuters.

In March, Apple teamed with the likes of Samsung and Panasonic in vouching its support for Sony's Blu-ray HD format by joining the Blu-ray Disc Association.

Despite the fact that Intel and Microsoft combine to supply the technology behind at least 9 out of every 10 personal computers, their decision to back the HD DVD format at this time does not end all hope for the Blu-ray format.

Sony's Blu-ray format continues to garner ongoing support in Hollywood, with several studios, including Walt Disney, Sony Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox, saying that they will release high-definition movies on Blu-ray.

Meanwhile, Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures are backing HD DVD.

High-definition DVD discs, such Blu-ray discs, will have five times larger capacity than today's DVDs, with a single-layer disc holding up to 25 gigabytes of data and a double-layer disc holding up to 50 gigabytes of data.

The first HD DVD-compatible players and recorders are expected to start appearing on store shelves as early as the end of this year, with new products for both formats scheduled for wider release in 2006.