Ross Rubin, an analyst with NPD Techworld, has an interesting theory in his latest
weekly Engadget column. It goes something like this: Microsoft's adoption of HD-DVD was intended to increase the
viability of the less-popular format and, in turn, be a foil to Sony's Blu-ray format. The goal was never to emerge
victorious but to weaken Blu-ray, muddying the possibility of any dominant next-gen optical format. Why? Rubin's
fictional "Disc Bloat" informant spills his guts:
"Simple. Microsoft really has nothing to gain from either format winning. Just listen to any of Gates' recent interviews and how he talks about discs as a necessary evil until the world is ready for media-free distribution. That said, Microsoft has much to gain from both formats losing. Think back to the format war between DVD-Audio and SACD. Both formats lost and it was a computer company that stepped in to become the new center of the digital music universe."
Like Apple's dominance in digital music, Microsoft wants to sell you things like portable media centers running their software, or Xbox 360s with HD movies-on-demand capability. In his recent Engadget interview Gates said, "In terms of movies, I often say that this is the last format battle there will ever be, because everything is going to go online -- you're going to download it."
Until the great format battle of 2008 when competing holographic storage manufacturers vie for interplanetary dominance.