Vista: Will It Or Won't It Play HD DVDs?

Steve Riley, a senior program manager for Microsoft, said Thursday during a presentation on Vista security at the Microsoft TechEd conference in Sydney, Australia, that "any next generation high-definition content will not play in x32 at all," according to APC Magazine, an IT publication in Australia.

The next-generation technology Riley reportedly was referring to were competing DVD standards HD-DVD and Blu-ray.

The report caused a stir because the disclosure meant people planning to upgrade Windows XP on their current 32-bit machines to Vista would be out of luck. The same would hold true for the majority of people buying computers between now and the time the consumer version of Vista ships, which is set for January. While Intel and rival Applied Micro Devices will sell 64-bit chips for Vista, it's expected to take a while before computers with the beefier technology become commonplace in the consumer market.

On Friday, Microsoft sent by email a statement from Windows marketer Adam Anderson "to clarify recent reports."

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"It is up to the ISVs providing playback solutions to determine whether the intended playback environment, including environments with a 32-bit CPU, meets the performance requirements to allow high definition playback while supporting the guidelines set forth by the content owners." Anderson said. "No version of Windows Vista will make a determination as to whether any given piece of content should play back or not."

The debate over 32-bit Vista centered on whether the operating system could meet the stringent copyright protection demands of movie studios and other content providers.

Blu-ray and HD DVD are disk standards that make it possible to burn the large files required for high-definition programming and movies on to DVDs. Sony, Hitachi and Philips support the Blu-ray format, while HD DVD is supported by Toshiba and NEC.