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Intel Corp., the world’s main supplier of chips, and Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest maker of software, announced their joining of the HD DVD Promotion Group, which may mean that both companies have chosen to support HD DVD instead of Blu-Ray disc format.

The announcement may mean that both companies will promote the HD DVD as well as supply appropriate software. For instance, Microsoft may allow to playback and record HD DVDs under its forthcoming Windows Vista operating system. Intel's hardware may later on support support special instructions that improve H.264 decocoding, which may be needed for better performance of HD DVDs. The companies said that they wanted high-definition video disc format to be cost-effective and consumer friendly.

“We want to make sure that whatever is put out on the market is going to be as consumer friendly as possible from the price and usability point of view,” said Blair Westlake, vice president of Microsoft’s Media/Entertainment and Technology Convergence Group.

Intel and Microsoft also indicated that the choice to back HD DVD was also made because of its hybrid disc technology, which lets users to view current-generation DVDs on HD DVD discs imprinted with both formats.

HD DVD is the next generation DVD format being standardized at the DVD Forum, which represents over 230 consumer electronics, information technology, and content companies worldwide. HD DVD can store up to 15GB of data on one layer. HD DVD players and HD DVD video software were originally expected to come to market in late 2005. The development of HD DVD is headed by NEC and Toshiba. The rival format Blu-ray is developed by Sony and Panasonic along with industry partners.

“The participation of the two global leaders in the IT industry will assure enhancement of HD DVD format promotion, bring their technical and marketing expertise to the Group, and will contribute to the early market penetration of HD DVD products,” HD DVD Promotion Group said in a statement.

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