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DVD group gets Microsoft backing

The software giant joins the DVD+RW Alliance and plans to take a more active role in developing and promoting the DVD+RW format.

Microsoft is taking a more active role in developing one of the formats in the heated DVD rewritable debate.

The DVD+RW Alliance announced late Monday that Microsoft had joined its ranks, adding that the software giant will also have a seat on its policy-setting team with representatives from Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard, Mitsubishi Chemical/Verbatim, Philips, Ricoh, Sony, Thomson and Yamaha. The DVD+RW Alliance is a group of companies that promotes and develops the DVD+RW format.

The rival DVD Forum, which includes Apple Computer, Hitachi, NEC, Pioneer, Samsung and Sharp, advocates the DVD-RAM, DVD-R and DVD-RW formats. The two sides have been competing against one another to push their formats to dominate the market.

The move by Microsoft is not exactly a big surprise. Last year, Microsoft demonstrated software at its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference that supported the DVD+RW format in its next version of Windows. Microsoft also supports DVD-RAM in Windows.

Microsoft's more active role in the DVD+RW format could prove important in determining the dominant format in a long-running battle for market share.

"Microsoft is committed to the convergence and compatibility in both PC and consumer-electronics applications," Tom Phillips, general manager of Microsoft's Windows Hardware Experience Group, said in a release. "Microsoft is happy to become a part of the DVD+RW Alliance and help promote writable DVD standards that are aligned with the Mount Rainier technology."

Mount Rainier was formed by companies including Compaq, Philips Electronics, Sony and Microsoft to enable OS support of data storage on rewritable storage technologies. The group started its efforts in tying CD-rewritable technology to an OS and later finalized the Mount Rainier spec for DVD+RW, which set the format up for inclusion into Windows.

Microsoft's support for the DVD+RW format began last March, when Mount Rainier finalized a specification for DVD+RW.