The DVD Forum steering committee recently approved the initial specification for High-Definition DVD (HD-DVD), a next-generation DVD standard. According to the specification, HD-DVD devices will have to support VC-9, the basis for Windows Media Video (WMV) 9, Microsoft's most recent video codec. HD-DVD will also support the MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) formats, according to the DVD Forum. The decision is a coup for the software giant, which is trying to establish its multimedia formats as industry standards.
HD-DVD isn't the only high-resolution, next-generation DVD format, however. A competing group will offer devices based on a technology called Blu-ray. But HD-DVD offers a number of advantages over Blu-ray, not the least of which is HD-DVD's backward-compatibility with today's DVDs. As a result, tomorrow's HD-DVD devices will play DVDs as well as HD-DVDs.
Thanks to VC-9's and WMV's compression capabilities, HD-DVDs will be able to play back more than 130 minutes of HD video encoded at 15Mbps. This capability played a major role in the inclusion of Microsoft's technology in the specification because at 23GB Blu-ray supports more capacity, and a second-generation 50GB Blu-ray standard is due soon.