The Blu-ray Disc Association said in early September that it would add high-level video compression systems from Microsoft and MPEG to the format's specifications, allowing programmers to pack more high-definition content into the same amount of disc space. The move more closely aligns Blu-ray with the DVD Forum's HD DVD format, which previously adopted the two codecs into its specs. The codecs, Microsoft's VC-1 (formerly VC-9) and MPEG-4 AVC (also called H.264), will be mandatory components of the main Blu-ray technology license. Anyone who wants to manufacture a Blu-ray player or recorder will have to include the Microsoft and MPEG software. With music videos on DVD now the fastest-growing RIAA category, this move reduces the incompatibility issues that had threatened to stall the next-generation disc for 5.1 to 7.1 sound capability combined with HD video. Record labels have been trying to jump-start the multichannel audio sector for several years and many hope that high-density disc formats will be key in that effort. The move to add VC-1 and MPEG-4 to the Blu-ray format represents a course reversal for the Sony-led group, which had said it would include only MPEG-2 compression in the new HD disc format.
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