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Microsoft selects DVD software for Xbox

Ravisent Technologies has won the contract to supply DVD playback software for Microsoft's upcoming game console.

Ravisent Technologies said Friday it has won the contract to supply DVD playback software for Microsoft's upcoming Xbox game console.

Ravisent is chiefly known for its CineMaster software, which allows DVD movies to be shown on PCs with DVD drives. The company has sold more than 18 million units of the PC software, senior vice president Alan McCann said.

When the Xbox enters the market next October, its main competition is likely to be Sony's recently released PlayStation 2 console. The PlayStation 2 allows people to play DVD movies and game discs. Its DVD feature has received poor marks, however, because of its awkward controls.

The PlayStation 2's DVD functions can only be accessed using the game controller and a complex on-screen menu or through bulky add-on remote controls sold by third-party manufacturers.

Microsoft will offer DVD playback as an option with the Xbox, McCann said. Buyers who want to use the console to play movies will buy an expansion pack that will include a remote control and the CineMaster software, which has special effects and audio/video processing quality comparable to that of a high-end set-top DVD player.

"We've studied the PlayStation 2 from a couple of perspectives to understand what consumers liked about it and what they didn't," McCann said. "One of the things we saw was that people using it to play DVDs were underwhelmed with both the quality and the user interface.

"Microsoft decided to make DVD an option and to really make it work for people who want that functionality."