Dolby audio to be built into all Windows 8 versions after all

Dolby Labs announces its Digital Plus technology will be built into Windows 8, Windows 8 Professional, and Windows RT on ARM tablets.

Dolby Laboratories warned shareholders last August that its DVD playback technologies were unlikely to be incorporated into Windows 8.

Dolby today announced, however, that its Dolby Digital Plus technology would be part of the Windows 8 client releases.

Dolby's Digital Plus is built into Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate, according to Dolby's Web site. The site describes Dolby's Digital Plus as providing "next-generation surround sound" that helps improve the listening experience of DVDs and digital TVs by complementing high-definition video with support for HD audio -- something that Windows Media Center users would appreciate.

But with Windows 8, Microsoft is marginalizing Windows Media Center. There's no word from Microsoft as to if and whether the company intends to update the current Windows Media Center bits. But Microsoft will offer Windows Media Center as a paid (no idea yet on the price) add-on media pack for those with the Windows 8 Professional release.

Update (May 4): So now last year's warning from Dolby makes sense. Dolby was correct in predicting that some of its technologies, specifically those for DVD playback, are not going to be included in Windows 8. Microsoft officially acknowledged this on May 3 in a post to the "Building Windows 8" blog. And Media Center will be available via one of two add-on packs, we now know: The Media Pack add-on or the Pro Pack add-on, the latter of which we hadn't heard about until this blog post. DVD playback will be offered only through Media Center and not Media Player, as ZDNet's Ed Bott explains on his blog.

Today's Dolby press release notes that Digital Plus will be in all PCs and tablets running Windows 8, Windows 8 Professional and Windows RT (the Windows on ARM) versions. From the release:

Developers will be enabled to deliver the highest level of immersive experiences and cinematic sound through Windows 8 APIs in desktop and Metro-style apps, including those developed for x86 and ARM architectures. Dolby Digital Plus 5.1-channel decoding and Dolby Digital two-channel encoding will be supported in all PCs and tablets licensed to run Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows RT editions.

As AllThingsD noted, Dolby is expecting Windows 8 to ship some time during its fiscal 2013, which begins in October. Microsoft officials still have not announced a general availability date for Windows 8.

About the author

    Mary Jo Foley has been a tech journalist for almost 30 years. She is editor of ZDNet's "All About Microsoft" blog. She authored "Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-Gates Era" and co-hosts the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT Network.


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