Microsoft Windows to Support Blu-ray Internally

Microsoft, a staunch supporter of HD DVD before the format died, has now indicated that a near-future edition of its Windows operating system for PCs will permit disc-burning in the Blu-ray Disc format directly from the desktop without the need to install any third-party software.

The strategy signals a 180-degree turnabout from not too long ago when Microsoft was offering an HD DVD add-on direct to its Xbox 360 game consoles. But while the Redmond, Wash., computer giant might be a fierce competitor of rival console maker Sony (Blu-ray’s primary proponent), which produces the PlayStation 3, the house that Bill Gates built often finds itself on the co-operative side of Sony when it comes to the Japanese maker’s laptop computers (and the Microsoft software that often is bundled with them).

Although currently being beta-tested, Windows’ Feature Pack for Storage contains a Blu-ray application programming interface that enables the Windows platform to do “master-style optical burning on Blu-ray media,” Microsoft said in a statement posted online Aug. 18 for Web site developers. Only a major, unforeseen rift between both firms would likely lead to any last-minute exclusion of the Blu-ray software from Microsoft’s Windows platforms, notably Vista and XP.