Through the lifespan of the format, Microsoft has been a strong supporter of HD DVD. Microsoft helped to design the specifications and the underlying software that is used for many HD DVD titles, and even released HD DVD hardware for the Xbox 360.
Microsoft is currently developing a "Windows Feature Pack for Storage" for both Windows XP and Windows Vista with no announced shipment date yet.
Plans for such an update were revealed on a Microsoft Connect website for test and development purposes, which detailed three new technologies that would eventually be added into the operating systems.
Although Blu-ray Disc media is currently supported through third party software, the update will integrate burning into the OS. The upcoming Image Mastering API update "enables the Windows platform to do master style optical burning on Blu-Ray media," according to the website.
The other update includes Active Storage Platform, which enables the system to "restrict access to portable devices (such as a USB Flash Device) via a certificate or password authentication based on the IEEE 1667 standard specification."
The last of the three new features is a Smart Card Driver that provides support for new form factors, such as ICCD/CCID.
While some may view the added Blu-ray Disc support in Windows as a sign of the format’s victory, Microsoft is simply padding the features of its operating system. Just because one can soon burn a Blu-ray Disc more easily in Windows doesn’t mean that Microsoft is a true Blu-ray believer.
While writable Blu-ray Discs will be the optical storage of the future, Microsoft is likely still looking at at digital downloads as the true answer for HD media delivery.