We know official backing by Microsoft and Intel won't necessarily make or break the coming next-gen optical disc standards war, but they definitely made some waves this week when both companies shed their supposed format neutrality (even though it was an open secret that Microsoft was siding with Toshiba) and announced they were going to support HD DVD. It's still a little beyond us why two companies like MS and Intel would bother taking a side; neither will be directly involved in manufacturing or marketing next-gen optical-based consumer electronics. For instance, it's not like MS is going to rescind their VC1 license to Blu-ray, or Intel will refuse to sell embedded processors to third-party Blu-ray device manufacturers based on this decision. Nor does it mean they can't also sit on both standards groups, like other companies such as Canon do. Ultimately you could say we're not sure why they would even feel it necessary to plant their flags in the ground, but Tom's has a good run of the official reasoning the two tech giants exercized (however dubiously) in making their big decision.