Microsoft Ships HD DVD Emulator For Xbox 360 Development - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Ships HD DVD Emulator For Xbox 360 Development

The tool enables disc-authoring companies to model the behavior of HD DVD content, including encoded video and HDi interactivity.

Microsoft on Thursday released the Xbox 360 HD DVD Emulator, software that enables film studios and others to test the behavior of content before burning it to a disk in the high-definition HD DVD format.

Microsoft is pitching the tool as an alternative to "expensive hardware or time-consuming and costly trial-and-error processes for testing HD DVD titles."

The tool enables disc-authoring companies to model the behavior of HD DVD content, including encoded video and HDi interactivity, Microsoft said. HDi is the company's implementation of the advanced content interactivity layer in HD DVD. The technology is used in the HD DVD player add-on to the Xbox 360, and in Toshiba players.

The emulator software uses the Xbox 360 videogame system or the player add-on to enable playback from network storage, a portable hard drive or optical disc. During the playback process, developers can test layout, menus and the title's interactivity functionality.

In addition, the software keeps a detailed log report to help developers find code problems, Microsoft said. The feature is meant to reduce the amount of time spent on manual debugging. "Microsoft developed the Emulator to help save studios and postproduction houses time, resources and costs involved with the creation of HD DVD content, and let them focus on what really matters -- pushing the envelope with the format," Jordi Ribas, general manager of HD DVD at Microsoft, said in a statement.

Microsoft tested the new tool during a beta program that ran from July through November. Participants in the program included Deluxe Digital Studios, Enteractive GmbH, Imagion AG, Memory-Tech and NetBlender.

Setting up Emulator requires a connection to Xbox Live, Microsoft's online gaming site, and navigating to the download games menu to download the software to the Xbox 360. The software carries a one-time licensing fee of $2,999.

HD DVD is a high-definition DVD format supported by Microsoft and Toshiba that competes with Blu-ray, a format whose major supporters include Sony. The latter company ships a Blu-ray disc player in the PlayStation 3 videogame console.

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