Microsoft: why HD DVD can beat Blu-ray

Titles like Smokin' Aces, Tokyo Drift and Children of Men have far more interactivity than any DVD title. Children of Men, for example, features overlaid adverts and newspaper pages from its futuristic world; in Tokyo Drift there's the option of customising your own car and seeing it in the film; while in Smokin' Aces an 'assassin tracker' shows where other characters are at any point in the film.

The network connection lets studios add extra features to existing discs, from trailers for new movies to extra soundtrack languages to bonus features that might be free if you watch a few adverts first. A studio could sell you the standard version of a disc and then charge you to unlock premium content.

If there's too much new content for the built-in storage you can plug in a USB drive; soon you'll be able to access remote drives using DLNA standards.

Look for more online options like polls and maybe even RSS feeds, says Collins: "The whole concept of having a network connection invites community and you can have a whole lot of things sharing back and forth."

Why HD DVD isn't dead yet

You won't see any of this on Blu-ray he says. "Studios author to the lowest common denominator" so the Blu-ray version of Mission Impossible 3 doesn't have the picture-in picture features of the HD DVD title because not all players could show it.

Sony has repeatedly claimed capacity is a problem for HD DVD, but Collins says Microsoft's VC-1 compression codec avoids the issues.

"First Sony said 'you need 50GB because you can't do a 30 hour movie in 30GB', but we came out with Grand Prix on HD DVD and it fits on HD 30. So then Sony said 'what we really meant is you couldn't do a 3 hour movie in Europe with multiple languages' but King Kong is on HD 30 with bonus content and advanced audio. VC-1 gives you awesome compression, retaining the fidelity of the master but with low bit rates."

Collins points out the only Warner titles that haven't used VC-1 were the first four releases - "and they were panned".

HD DVD is also a better solution for videographers like wedding photographers who drive DVD success, (along with adult entertainment of course). Because you can burn a cut-down HD DVD onto DVD-R, using the burner you already have, it's far more affordable than the investment you need to buy into Blu-ray, you can offer a disc with bookmarking. "So your customers can mark the sections they really like," says Collins, "not just your chapters - plus you can hook into the network connection to drive more sales".

And what about the reason that Microsoft first got behind HD DVD - being able to make a copy of your disc? "We made [Managed Copy] mandatory for HD DVD and Blu-ray changed their stance. Every title has to offer a Managed Copy solution, although that can be a variety of things - anything from making an exact replica on hard disk to play back or a copy for an iPod or a Zune or for DVD content."

The reason you won't see Managed Copy on any titles yet is that AACS (Advanced Access Content System) controls the licensing agreement for it. "In order to get it out for both formats they created an interim agreement in February 2006. The interim agreement didn't have Managed Copy or several other AACS features and they're still being discussed for the final agreement."

Collins still can't say when the final agreement is coming out. "They keep saying tomorrow - every day it's going to be tomorrow!" Mary Branscombe was the former name of Its staff were at the forefront of the digital publishing revolution, and spearheaded the move to bring consumer technology journalism to its natural home – online. Many of the current TechRadar staff started life a staff writer, covering everything from the emerging smartphone market to the evolving market of personal computers. Think of it as the building blocks of the TechRadar you love today.