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Blu-ray backer HP threatens to back HD DVD too

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

When Blu-ray Disc debuts next Spring, long-time supporter HP may not be among the companies heralding the launch because the format ships without a technology the PC vendor wants included.

This week, the Blu-ray Ray Disc Association (BDA) said the next-generation optical disc format's copy-protection system would allow users to make personal copies to allow the content to be displayed on multiple machines connected on a home network.

That was arguably always part of the plan, since it's part of the AACS copy-protection system already adopted by the BDA - and, indeed, the DVD Forum for HD DVD.

According to a Reuters report HP told the BDA last month that this so-called 'mandatory managed copy' (MMC) must be in the BD-ROM specification if the format was to retain the PC vendor's backing. This despite the fact that HP itself told the world in September that MMC was part of Blu-ray. It made the comment in response to claims from Microsoft and Intel - both HD DVD backers - that Blu-ray lacked MMC.

HP is also supposed to have told the BDA it wants the format to support Microsoft's iHD interactivity technology, due to ship with Windows Vista. Supporting iHD will ensure full compatibility with all major operating systems, HP believes.

This week, the BDA said it will base Blu-ray's interactivity features on Java. The organisation will consider iHD, but it's not going to delay the launch in order to ensure iHD is there from the word go.

Sorry, said HP, but that's not good enough.

"If [the BDA] are unable to incorporate technologies we think are critical for the PC architecture, we'll be more neutral," said Maureen Weber, general manager of personal storage in HP's personal systems group, cited by Reuters.

"Potentially, we could support both HD DVD and Blu-ray."

Sounds like sour grapes to us. Is HP really willing to spoil one of the key consumer electronics launches of 2006 - and one it has consistently backed throughout - because a 150-odd member organisation won't immediately back the request of a single member, albeit a major one? We shall see... ®

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