WinHEC: Next Windows to support all DVD writing formats

Native support will come with Longhorn version

SAN FRANCISCO -- Microsoft will support all major writable DVD formats in future versions of its Windows operating system, the software maker said.

Native support for DVD-RAM, DVD-RW/-R and DVD+RW/+R will start with Windows Longhorn, the successor to Windows XP slated for launch in 2005, a Microsoft spokesman said Friday.

Writable DVDs have a storage capacity of 4.7G bytes, much higher than the roughly 650M bytes of writable CDs. The higher capacity can be useful for storing multimedia files or making backups, for example.

The announcement, made at Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in New Orleans, follows on to Microsoft's backing of DVD+RW announced at last year's WinHEC conference.

Microsoft appeared to be picking favorites earlier this year when it joined the DVD+RW Alliance, the group that promotes and develops the DVD+RW format.

Microsoft at the time already was working closely with some on the DVD+RW Alliance in a group called Mount Rainier to design technology that will make a rewritable CD and DVD as easy to use in a PC as a floppy.

The Redmond, Washington, software maker says its support for all the major standards is about offering choice to users, the spokesman said. Users will be able to connect any compatible drive and have it running without the need to download any additional drivers, he said.

DVD+RW is backed by vendors including Koninklijke Philips Electronics, Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Dell, and Ricoh. DVD-RW and DVD-RAM are rival formats supported by the DVD Forum. The DVD-RW format is being pushed by Pioneer, while Hitachi, Toshiba, and Matsushita are in the DVD-RAM camp.