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Microsoft to broaden DVD support

The software giant says at WinHEC that it will support all major formats for rewriting DVDs in its future versions of Windows XP.

Microsoft is expanding its involvement in the rewritable DVD market, announcing Thursday that future versions of Windows will support all major formats.

The software giant said at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in New Orleans that it will provide built-in support for DVD+RW, DVD-RW/-R and DVD-RAM in future versions of its desktop operating system. The move builds off the company's support for the DVD+RW format, which it announced at last year's WinHEC, and support for DVD-RAM in Windows XP.

At the very least, the support for the formats in Windows will mean that people won't have to download additional software to have their computers recognize newly installed DVD rewritable drives or discs.

"With support for all the major writable DVD formats, users will find it much easier, less costly and more efficient to back up personal data, transfer files between PCs and share personally edited video on DVD-Video," Tom Phillips, general manager of the Windows Hardware Experience Group at Microsoft, said in a release.

Earlier this year, the Redmond, Wash.-based company said it would play a more active role in developing the DVD+RW format as it joined the DVD+RW Alliance, the group promoting that format.

The support comes amid increased interest in the editing and sharing of digital images, and as hardware and computer vendors add support for DVD rewritable capabilities.

DVDs have a storage capacity of 4.7GB, higher than that of CDs, which store about 650MB. The extra capacity makes them more suitable for movies and other multimedia formats. Hewlett-Packard and other manufacturers assert that the time is right for DVD recording to take off. Retail sales figures indicate growing interest in the technology.

Computing hardware makers are hoping to repeat the success of CD-RW technology and to build off the popularity of DVD players, which are one of the fastest growing segments in the consumer electronics market.