Microsoft excludes Dolby Digital Plus from Windows 8

By on August 5, 2011, 4:16 PM

Dolby Laboratories' shares were down this morning after the company disclosed yesterday that its technologies are not present in the current builds of Microsoft Windows 8. The company said if this does not change, it will choose to support DVD playback by licensing technologies directly to PC manufacturers, OEMs, and software vendors.

This will not only guarantee that its technology is still included in new computers, tablets, and whatever else Microsoft puts Windows 8 on, but it will ensure that its revenue stream does not take a significant hit. Dolby revealed the tidbit during a post-earnings conference call. Here's a part of the transcript, courtesy of Seeking Alpha (via ZDNet):

We work with operating system providers, ISVs and OEMs to support DVD on the PC. In recent years, our mix of PC licensing revenue has increasingly shifted towards the operating system as our technologies are included in 4 editions of Windows 7. However, we have recently learned that our technologies are not currently included in the Windows 8 operating system under development. If our technologies are not included in the commercial version of Windows 8, we expect to support DVD playback functionality by increasingly licensing our technologies directly to OEMs and ISVs, and we will seek to extend our technologies to further support online content playback.

In Windows 7, Microsoft included support for the Dolby Digital Plus technology. This allowed DVD playback of up to 7.1 channels of HD surround sound.

It's not clear if this means Microsoft is planning to license DVD Playback software from another vendor for Windows 8 or if the software giant is going down a completely different path. One thing is clear though: Microsoft has put Dolby in a difficult position.

While normally we wouldn't come to such conclusions based on early builds (remember: Windows 8 is not even in beta), it's important to remember how Microsoft develops Windows. The company always takes the previous version (Windows 7 in this case) as the starting point and then works from there. As a result, Dolby's technologies were consciously removed, and while it's possible they can be added back, right now it's doubtful this will happen.

User Comments: 10

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Mizzou Mizzou said:

Maybe Dolby needs to budge on their license fees which is doubtless the heart of the matter.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

I wonder what this means for potential blu-ray playback support.

Guest said:

Well since Blu-Ray I have not used DD as all my Blu-Ray's have DTS so for me I don't give a rats *** about Dolby Digital Plus in Windows 8 or not!

Guest said:

Seeing as Windows 8 is supposed to be on multiple different hardware form factors, this would make sense to me. Stuff like DVD and Blu-Ray playback isn't going to be something that's going to be used in a tablet or an ultraportable / ultrabook or even possibly a smartphone if Windows 8 goes in that direction. A lot of the video experience will come from streaming services, and the profit margins on them aren't going to be very high, so licensing something as extensive as Dolby Digital Plus might very well be overkill, especially for entry-level devices.

Leaving such licensing down to OEMs and ISVs might complicate things and makes us end-users dependent on them getting it working smoothly (which is definitely a worry of mine), but properly done it can leave us with a more accurate cost reflecting the more tailored, specific experience we ask for when we go for those types of devices.

Mindwraith said:

if your interested in 7.1 HD surround sound, you're probably going to invest in a proper home entertainment system. as opposed to playing movies on your computer. so this makes sense

Guest said:

@Mindwraith, unless of course you're running an HTPC using Windows Media Centre.

Guest said:

And of course OP, you never play any of your old DVD collection now that you have a shiny blu to treasure...

z0phi3l said:

Guest said:

@Mindwraith, unless of course you're running an HTPC using Windows Media Centre.

Should be part of your hardware purchase, not the OS, what good is it for me to have DD support on say a tablet or an embedded system, but if I buy a BR or DVD player, that should have already gotten the required licences before the sale

Guest said:

That sucks u must just have 6.1 then cause there are no titles with dts 7.1 yet...

Guest said:

You are so wrong, currently there are over 500 bds that have dts ma 7.1, half of those are commercial movies, you can check them here

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