As mentioned, Microsoft also announced a musical download content deal with Verizon. The latter announced its direct-to-the-phone music download service at CES, dubbed V Cast. There's a field day of two evil-empire wordplays here, but I'll avoid them. The upshot is that V Cast is going to use Microsoft's codecs and DRM (digital rights management) software. We'll have to see how well this works in a handheld format, but Verizon doesn't seem worried. And, hey, it's got to be better than Sony's DRM software.
In the same musical vein, Microsoft also offered a peek at WMP (Windows Media Player) 11 in conjunction with MTV's Urge library of downloadable audio content. I only caught a glimpse of this demo before they set the dogs on me, but the new WMP interface looked suitably impressive, and the search speed that Microsoft touts certainly appeared fast. Of course, that was being demoed in optimal conditions, so I'll reserve judgment until I see it operate with a few dozen Internet routers and a couple of million simultaneous searchers in the way.
Last was Microsoft's announcement of HD-DVD-format commitment. The company has all along backed the HD-DVD format over Blu-Ray , but with several large vendors looking as though they were going to accept the Blu-Ray standard, there were rumors floating that Microsoft would do the same.
Well, it doesn't look that way now, as Microsoft not only reaffirmed its commitment to HD-DVD but even announced that it was going to be coming out with an external HD-DVD drive for the Xbox 360. Redmond plans to have around 50 HD-DVD-compliant game titles available for that drive by this summer.
However, while this is an exciting issue for Xbox users, enterprise readers shouldn't be overly concerned. Optical may be the next backup platform after tape, but simply because Microsoft is backing HD-DVD hardware on the consumer side doesn't mean its internal OS backup utilities will ever ignore other emerging optical standards. Blu-Ray may have some problems, but if it remains a viable standard, Redmond's business software will no doubt support it.
Look for more CES coverage on the blogs. Meanwhile, I'm going to take more Advil and see about getting this tattoo removed.