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Microsoft pledges DVD support

As DVD's star rises, Microsoft announces that future versions of Windows and Windows NT will support it.

    Sales of digital video disc (DVD) drives and players are expected to generate $349 million in 1997, and that number could rise to $4.1 billion by the year 2000, according to a recent survey. In recognition of that trend, Microsoft (MSFT) today announced its strategy for supporting DVD applications in future versions of Windows and Windows NT operating systems.

    DVD support will be provided via device drivers along with the ActiveMovie and DirectDraw APIs that will allow the DVD-ROM and the computer to communicate and work together.

    "We are excited about the potential of DVD and the opportunities it poses to bring high-quality digital and audio to the PC experience; it enables superior movie viewing while enabling a whole new class of software applications," said Moshe Dunie, vice president, Windows operating systems division, in a written statement.

    A DVD-ROM disc looks just like a CD-ROM, but it can store up to 4.7GB of data for a single-layer disc, compared to a CD-ROM's 640MB. DVD-ROM also supports the MPEG2 video standard and can play high-resolution audio, which means 133 minutes of full-motion high-quality video.

    Microsoft is working with Matsushita Electric Industrial, Compaq Computer, Mediamatics, and SGS-Thomson Microelectronics to develop DVD drives, software and decoders for its operating systems, said Julie Whitehead, a Microsoft spokeswoman.

    Microsoft's ActiveMovie API is being updated to support both DVD hardware and software. ActiveMovie 2.0 will allow playback of MPEG-2 video and high-quality audio. The ActiveMovie DVD interface will enable users to create media applications that deliver content with increased clarity and high-definition sound on a single disc.

    DVD support for the operating systems will not affect pricing, Whitehead added. There is no set date for when it will be available to consumers. Compaq also plans to implement DVD support into its product line during 1997.