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It's official! DVD plus/minus war ends in a draw

Final whistle blown

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The battle of the recordable DVD formats - DVD+R/RW versus DVD-R/RW - is finally and officially over more than five-odd years after it began, and several years after the fight became largely symbolic.

Late last week, DVD6C, the consortium of DVD intellectual property holders, said that it had added DVD+R and DVD+RW to its list of licensable DVD products. The change actually took place right at the start of the year. Up until then, DVD6C had only licensed DVD-R and DVD-RW technology.

Whether discs and players are labelled plus, minus or both, they will now all attract the same royalty rate too.

Coming together this way, the two formats are now officially equal in the eyes of the DVD industry, and the battle between them is over.

Actually, it's been effectively over for some time, thanks to drives capable of reading and writing all the DVD formats - DVD-Ram as well as the plus and minus varieties.

The DVD-R format was developed and proposed by Pioneer more than ten years ago, in 1997. It eventually became the official recordable format thanks to the backing of the DVD Forum, the organisation that controls the standard.

The DVD Forum has already given the thumbs up to DVD-Ram, but this was pitched at data use, while DVD-R was developed primarily for video.

Two years later, in 1999, Pioneer unveiled a re-writeable version, DVD-RW. A competing rewriteable technology had already been proposed after being developed by Philips and others but failed to take off, largely because it didn't gain the support of the DVD Forum.

In 2001, Philips and co. decided to promote the format anyway, and DVD+RW was born, a revamped and revised version of the technology Philips had touted back in 1997. The following year, DVD+RW was extended with a cheaper, write-once format, DVD+R.

In the intervening years, groups behind each format have tried to persuade World+Dog that their respective technologies are better, faster, more capacious, more suitable to video, more suitable for data and more popular the rival one.

The fight was particularly eclipsed over the last two or three years by the battle between blue-laser media Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD, but the fact is, with modern multi-format DVD writers and players, it hasn't really mattered which format you buy.

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