Microsoft releases HD DVD emulator software

In an attempt to further spur development for its chosen next-generation DVD platform, Microsoft is making the tool available for $2,999.

The company says by offering an inexpensive way to test HD DVD videos for their playability before the movies are burned to disc, this should in turn reduce the number of problems with disc playback. All the testers need is a connection to Xbox Live and a console to use the emulator.

While specifically aimed at emulating its own player, due to the fact that all HD DVD players follow a strict standard, it should successfully emulate results for any certified player in testing the content.

Developers have three options to test content: the content can be played directly from a network storage share or USB drive, or from an optical disc within the Xbox 360's hard drive.

Obviously, the emulator will not be able to assist with actual movie playback, but it will be able to be used to test out interactivity features which HD DVD has made its hallmark.

In tests, Microsoft found that the emulator significantly reduced development time and costs --this could mean more time for rich interactive content-- and brought down the number of needed test discs by 75 percent.

"We are committed to supporting and advancing the HD DVD ecosystem," Microsoft HD DVD Jordi Ribas said in a statement.

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