Microsoft unveils Xbox 360 HD DVD drive emulator
To the HD disc format what IE is to the web?
Microsoft yesterday launched software that emulates on a PC HD DVDs played on its Xbox 360 add-in drive. It's a move that could give the software giant de facto control of the next-gen optical disc format.
The emulator software essentially allows companies mastering new HD DVDs to test them for compatibility with the Microsoft hardware. It pitched the code as a way of saving hundreds of hours of work, which will undoubtedly appeal to HD DVD makers.
But here's the rub: when developers focus their testing efforts on a specific device, that device tends to become the standard against which all others are measured.
Think about Internet Explorer and the way, even today, so many websites are constructed to be compatible first and foremost with Microsoft's software. That wouldn't be a cause for concern if IE stuck to the letter of the law as far as coding web pages goes, but it doesn't. IE incorporates extensions and adaptations of the HTML standard.
That's why browsers like Apple's Safari, which sticks rigidly to the HTML rulebook, sometimes shows web sites incorrectly. So does Firefox, but it's coders have attempted to take on board Microsoft's tweaks to ensure such problems are minimised.
The bottom line is that IE's version of HTML has become the de facto standard, and all other browsers have to match it or risk being unable to show every web page.
And if HD DVD makers focus on compatibility with MS' HD DVD drive, there's a risk the same situation will arise here.
To be fair, the same thing can happen in the Blu-ray world, as disc developers focus on the PlayStation 3's playback as the common denominator. And the HD DVD standard is more tightly defined than HTML, allowing MS less latitude to 'improve' it, should it choose to do so.
However, MS' move will provide conspiracy theorists like Transformers director Michael Bay with further opportunities to attribute the software giant with hidden motives.
The problem with this theory....
The Xbox 360 HD DVD emulator is designed to allow HD DVD disc authors to cheaply test the HDi code on their HD DVDs. HDi is the standard <b>Microsoft</b> created to power interactivity on HD DVDs. Since <b>Microsoft</b> created the standard, doesn't it stand to reason that <b>Microsoft</b> create the reference software against which people who use the standard should test?
Sun created Java, so you'd expect that Sun would create the reference Java runtime.
Makes sense to you? Makes sense to me.
Almost on topic: Opera
When I see a site that doesn't work in Opera at all I get annoyed an move on, but if I see a site that still renders, just not as the designers wanted I get a sense of smug superiority. Plus I prefer the light version of Hotmail I get to see in Opera compared to the overly AJAXified one in IE/FF
only IE compatible = lost sales
"The sheer quantity of bank sites, shopping sites and other similiar 'must haves' (to some users) that only work with IE is incredible."
Whenever I find sites like this (yes, you : M&S, Debenhams etc.) I send them a strongly worded email and don't buy anything from them until they fix it.
Perhaps if everybody did, they'd learn. After all, a company the size of M&S should be able to afford proper web development.