Microsoft announced this morning that Longhorn, the company's next-generation OS, will include support for High Definition DVD (HD-DVD), the video-playback format that's expected to succeed DVD. Microsoft's support of a next-generation DVD format is key to that format's success; in the past, Microsoft's support of technologies such as various recordable-DVD formats, USB, and Wi-Fi (the 802.11b wireless standard) helped make them ubiquitous in the PC world.
HD-DVD, which is only one of the competing formats vying to be the DVD standard, is backed by some of the industry's biggest players, including NEC and Toshiba. HD-DVD, which uses a blue laser that can read and store much more data than today's optical formats can, lets manufacturers store movie-length HD recordings on a single disc.
Blu-Ray, a competing DVD format, is backed by other industry heavyweights such as Philips and Sony. Microsoft could conceivably back the Blu-Ray format as well; earlier, the company announced that over time it will support various recordable-DVD formats, starting with DVD-RAM.