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July 29, 2008

Microsoft signs up OEMs for OneCare trial preloads

Posted by David Hunter at 5:32 PM ET.

Windows-Live-OneCare-logo Microsoft is now paralleling the competition by taking the trial preload route for selling the Windows Live OneCare PC security package.

To address the growing security and management needs of today’s new PC user, Microsoft Corp. is working with 11 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including Sony Corporation of America and Toshiba Asia Pacific to preinstall trial subscriptions of Windows Live OneCare on select new PCs across North America, Europe and Asia. Windows Live OneCare provides all-in-one security and anti-malware protection for consumers and small businesses along with tools that automate and simplify PC management and performance.

OneCare’s big selling point has been its low selling price, but while that may be good for retail box sales, getting to the new PC buyer’s wallet first probably has a greater effect. The other 9 OEMs besides Sony and Toshiba are small and primarily outside the USA.

Filed under Coopetition, General Business, Marketing, Microsoft, Sony, Toshiba, Windows Live, Windows Live OneCare

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February 24, 2008

Microsoft bails out of HD DVD

Posted by David Hunter at 12:16 PM ET.

After Toshiba surrendered the high definition DVD war to Blu-ray last week, the remaining supporters of HD DVD have been announcing their revised plans. Yesterday Microsoft’s were revealed on their Gamerscore blog:

As a result of recent decisions made by Toshiba, Hollywood studios, and retailers, Microsoft plans to withdraw from HD DVD.  Xbox will no longer manufacture new HD DVD players for the Xbox 360, but we will continue to provide standard product and warranty support for all Xbox 360 HD DVD Players in the market.  As we stated earlier, we do not believe this decision will have any material impact on the Xbox 360 platform or our position in the marketplace.  HD DVD is one of the several ways we offer a high definition experience to consumers and we will continue to give consumers the choice to enjoy digital distribution of high definition movies and TV shows directly to their living room, along with playback of the DVD movies they already own.

Frankly, the statement is a trifle odd since it seems to promise some sort of ongoing HD DVD compatibility and there is no mention of Blu-ray support. LG Electronics says it will continue to provide dual format players for a while, and I suppose Microsoft could well do the same, but HD DVD drives are soon going to be rather scarce.

One other thing that is odd is that back in 2005 Microsoft was one of the leaders of the HD DVD cause with a public fulmination by Bill Gates among others, but the last ditch battles seem to have been fought by Toshiba alone while Microsoft was publicly AWOL.

Filed under Alliances, Blu-ray, Coopetition, HD DVD, Hardware, Microsoft, Toshiba, Xbox

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January 12, 2007

TGIF: Well, that’s settled

Posted by David Hunter at 6:58 PM ET.

You may recall that in the high definition DVD wars Microsoft and Toshiba are the leaders of the HD DVD camp while Sony leads the Blu-ray forces. Now there’s word that the battle is all over – HD DVD versus Blu-ray – The porn industry says HD DVD:

Knowing their audience quite well, the adult entertainment industry holds their annual get together in Las Vegas to coincide with the CES. There is also a very pertinent crossover between the adult and tech industries – porn has a tendency to drive, and be driven, by technology. Which means HD DVD when it comes to high-def.

Quite famously in the war between Betamax and VHS the latter won especially because the adult industry preferred it. If you’ve been around long enough, you probably remember that the very early home video rental stores were primarily responsible for driving Betamax out of the market. And those stores carried almost exclusively pornographic content.

Although the market environments from then do not really compare to today’s home video market, parallels are drawn between the Betamax-VHS battle to the ongoing and escalating fight between Blu-ray and HD DVD. One of the key questions at this year’s CES actually is “Which high-def format will win the current format war – Blu-ray or HD DVD?” Surprisingly, it seems that there is no such question in the minds of the adult industry luminaries.

The rest of the article explains some technical reasons why HD DVD is a better choice for small publishers. There’s also an unverified report today that Sony has forbidden “adult” Blu-ray content which would make the choice even clearer.

The “adult entertainment” industry is not shy about preposterous self promotion, but the “porn makes new technologies succeed” meme has been around for years. I can recall arguments from over a decade ago that “adult entertainment” was going to be the driver for adoption of multimedia hardware features on PCs. That never came to pass (at least in the non-Web form anticipated), but the evidence is better in other technology areas. I doubt the battle is really over, but chalk this one up as one more player (albeit nonstandard) weighing in for HD DVD.

Update: For a less arousing status on the format wars, see this overview.

Update 1/19: More on the Sony/Blu-ray position here.

Update 1/27: Sony says there’s really no Blu-ray adult content prohibition.

Filed under Blu-ray, CES07, Conferences, Coopetition, HD DVD, Hardware, Microsoft, Sony, Toshiba

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August 25, 2006

Toshiba building Zune for Microsoft?

Posted by David Hunter at 2:13 PM ET.

There was no expectation that Microsoft would build their Zune personal media player without 3rd party help, but there has been no clear delineation of the others involved. The curtain was lifted a bit today by an FCC filing from Toshiba as Ina Fried reports at CNET:

Microsoft’s forthcoming Zune player is shooting to be the life of the party, allowing users to create mobile social networks and stream music to nearby friends or strangers, according to a government regulatory filing.

Zune owners can act as their own DJ, sending streaming music content to up to four other devices, according to documents filed Thursday with the Federal Communications Commission. With the device’s wireless networking abilities turned on, people can send and receive photos, as well as “promotional copies of songs, albums and playlists,” according to the filing.

Hardware maker Toshiba filed the FCC documents. However, the filing contains multiple references to the hard drive-based media player as “Zune,” as well as other code names, such as Argo and Pyxis.

Those do sound a bit familiar.

A Microsoft representative was not immediately able to comment on the FCC filing or whether Toshiba is, in fact, making the Zune device.

CNET has some photos from the FCC Web site as does The Register who has one with the Zune logo. I guess I shouldn’t have been so skeptical about the Gizmodo story that the Zune looked like a re-skinned Toshiba Gigabeat.

Update: Microsoft’s Cesar Menendez confirms:

The report is legitimate.

Toshiba is our manufacturing partner for Zune.

He also says that full Zune details will be forthcoming in the “next few weeks.”

Filed under Argo, Coopetition, Microsoft, Toshiba, Zune

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