Microsoft, Panasonic propose (another) CD standard

HighMAT Heimat

Microsoft, Panasonic and Fujifilm have announced a new format for CDs which they hope will establish a new standard and bring the world of PCs, DVDs and other CD formats together, writes Steve Malone.

The new format called HighMAT - High Performance Media Access Technology - is a new way to organise the data on the CD which should mean faster access for consumers and make it easier to sort and manipulate the content. the partners hope that it is a further step in bringing the disparate standards of the PC and consumer electronics Industries together.

HighMAT is based on a new directory structure for any type of content that might be video, pictures or audio. The format also provides for a metadata file that holds details about what's held in the files. At the moment, CD players have to access each file to find out what's in them. Having a single file containing details all the CDs makes content manipulation much easier and faster.

The HighMAT solution was originally proposed to answer the problem of hundreds of picture files that may be held on a single CD and the difficulty In viewing and Indexing them.

If it is a success, HighMAT will also solve another of the optical storage industry's most pressing problems - that of competing formats. Currently there are a huge range of formats including CD-R, CD-R/W amongst others. The proliferation of formats is beginning to slow the industry as manufacturers dither over which horse to back.

HighMAT supports the Windows Media Audio, MP3, JPEG, Windows Media Video, and MPEG4 formats.

HighMAT is principally aimed at the consumer market and is said to be compatible with the existing CD-R and CD-RW industry standards. Microsoft has committed itself to supporting the HighMAT format in the next releases of Windows Media Player 9 and Windows Media Maker 2. Both Fujifilm and Panasonic have also said that they will support the format in future products.

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