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How Does the DVD Garden Grow?

30 May, 2003 By: Thomas K. Arnold

I think if there's one thing we can, and should, all agree on, it is that the preservation of software is essential to the continued survival of the home video business. Despite platitudes and reassurances, I don't think physical stores, video or otherwise, will ever be a place where people will go to download something — heck it's too easy to do over your own computer.

Stores are where you go to buy something, something you can see, touch and feel; this is why we need to make sure software remains the ultimate (and most popular) end destination for movies and other forms of viewable entertainment.

That said, I must applaud the folks at Artisan for releasing a high-definition version of Terminator 2 that's playable only on high-end computers that run Microsoft's Windows Media Player 9. Short of true convergence — where your home computer is the main operating console for your TV, your stereo and everything else — it is unlikely that Microsoft's entry into the increasingly crowded next-generation DVD arena will be the one to ultimately triumph. The other guys are focused on technologies for set-top players, not computers, continuing in the path of current DVD.

But the Windows route is certainly an interesting detour — and evidence, once again, of the creative ingenuity for which the home entertainment industry has long been known. The days when this business consisted of a bunch of aging refrigerator salesmen hawking used movies on cassette are already a hazy memory; home entertainment now is a seedbed of ideas, evolutions and marvels. Just look at all the special features on DVD— and the DVD format itself — to see how creative we've all become, so much so that directors and other talents are striving to jump on the bandwagon—instead of being chased by it.

The Microsoft take on high-definition DVD is a dark horse, but the mere fact that it's even running should be applauded. There's an adage that maintains, “Change or die.” If the ideas, the new concepts and strategies, stop coming, we run the risk of stagnating. And who knows—given the steady rumblings about convergence, Windows Media might just be a window into DVD's future, after all.

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