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HP urges compromise in battle over new DVD formats

Hewlett-Packard, a member of the Blu-ray Disc Association developing the next-generation DVD, urged the group yesterday to adopt software that has already been included in the rival HD-DVD format.

While still supporting the Blu-ray format, HP took the unusual step of announcing its request as the board members of the Blu-ray group met in Los Angeles. The move signaled a potential rift in the Blu-ray camp between consumer electronics giants such as Sony, Panasonic and Samsung, and computer manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell, the New York Times reported.

In a pointed ultimatum, HP said that if the additional technology was not added to the Blu-ray format, it would consider switching allegiances and backing the rival standard. HP said it would support the optical formats that support this technology and would have to look at alternatives if the Blu-ray group rejects its request.

HP wants the Blu-ray group to incorporate the software because it allows consumers to legally copy DVDs onto their PCs, transfer movies to other devices, and watch video in a variety of ways.

The computer manufacturer asked the makers of Blu-ray to include two technologies in its specifications now supported by HD-DVD. One is known as mandatory managed copy, allowing users to copy high-definition movies onto PCs from discs and distribute them on home networks.

The other is a feature called iHD, which provides for new interactive features and is slated to be implemented in Microsoft’s new Windows Vista operating system. The move reflects HP’s desire to ensure that customers are not forced to choose between competing DVD formats.

After remaining neutral for several years, Microsoft and Intel last month backed the HD-DVD standard being developed by Toshiba. The move made it politically more difficult for the Blu-ray group to work with Microsoft.

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