The battle between Sony’s Blu-Ray and Toshiba’s HD-DVD has been a drawn out one, with nary a sniff of resolution in sight, and has seen likely to plunge consumers back into a situation similar to the VHS v BetaMax videotape battles of the 1980s. But a recent move by HP seems likely to bring some pressure to bear which could quite well lead to a resolution of the matter. Until now expressing support for the Blu-Ray standard, HP have now made it very clear that unless Sony incorporates Mandatory Managed Copy and iHD into Blu-Ray they’ll switch allegiances!

Let’s face it. Hollywood dropped the ball!

In a position to ‘force’ the adoption of one standard over the other from the outset, the movie industry was too busy playing one against the other to settle on anything sensible, and ended up generating a protracted battle with no end in sight. Three of the major studios ended up expressing support for one standard, the other three expressed support for the competing standard, in reality all six major studios are fence-sitting and will be quite happy to produce movies in both formats. Poor consumers!

But this time around it’s not only movie distribution which the battle relates to. The ultra high capacity disk format will also need to meet the needs of console gaming and PC multimedia, and it’s in those fields of activity that the battlefield is to be found. Sony’s Playstation 3 console will include Blu-Ray on release sometime next year, leading many to believe that this will lead to an end to the High definition battles. But Microsoft’s Xbox360, which will include standard DVD on initial release, will have a healthy head start in establishing itself as ‘the’ next generation console, will be switched over to HD-DVD as soon as it’s available, and has many pundits proclaiming that it will emerge as the ‘winner’ of the console wars. Xbox360 is better suited to multimedia, is designed for interactivity with home PCs in mind, and could well end up with a bigger market share than its rival by the time the consoles reach the end of their projected product lifespan.

Talks conducted between Sony and Toshiba, in an effort to reach compromise and bring the standards together, broke down quite some time ago.

In the PC world it’s really only HP who have held out for the Blu-Ray standard. Recently, both Microsoft and Intel have expressed clear endorsement of the HD-DVD standard. Their reason for doing so is the inclusion of two technologies which Blu-Ray doesn’t currently provide. Mandatory Managed Copy allows PC users to copy high definition content to PC for layback and distribution to networked household PCs, whilst prohibiting its unauthorised copying. iHD allows for various enhancements to content and navigation, and is a feature included in Windows Vista.

Now HP, the second biggest PC manufacturer of all, has stated those features are requirements and unless they are included they’ll need to swap allegiances! I guess we can only wait and hope, but it seems like a promising move to me.