For all the noise Microsoft made about Vista supporting HD DVD you'd think we'd be able to play those studio-released, HD DVD titles right out of the box right? Not so childrens, at least not in Australia according to c|net. See, Mark O'Shea, a Microsoft OEM systems engineer (not exactly an executive level position, mind you) sez that version 11 of the Windows Media Player shipping with Vista will not support playback for commercial Blu-ray or HD DVD films. By this, we assume he means that WMP11 won't include the ability to decrypt AACS encoded titles. For that you'll have to use third party software like PowerDVD from Cyberlink or Intervideo's WinDVD BD, neither of which is currently available for retail but may (or may not) ship with your BD or HD DVD drive. Then it'll all work, right? Maybe, but if your media rig is pumping video over DVI or HDMI then you'd better be sure your graphics card, driver, and display all support HDCP (not just HDCP ready) if you expect to decrypt that High Definition digital signal. All assuming your CPU or GPU has the muscle to decode the HD compression codecs to begin with. Heads' spinning yet? Sure, so go ahead, lie down for a bit, we'll understand why you put off your next-gen optical PC drive purchase while the DRM gets a bit, say, more consumer friendly.

Update: Oh my. Microsoft just announced that they won't support high definition playback on 32-bit versions of Vista, at all! In other words, unless you've recently upgraded to a Core 2 Duo or similar 64-bit processor, you won't be using that new Blu-ray or HD DVD drive to playback studio films when you upgrade to Vista. If that's your gig then you'd best get saving for a whole new rig, son, cause your old digs won't cut it.

[Thanks, ash]

Read -- no 32-bit support
Read -- WMP11

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Vista will not support Blu-ray or HD DVD playback out-of-the-box or on most PCs