Windows 8 May Not License Dolby; Dolby Shares Tumbling

Aug 05 2011

DolbyDolby revealed today to investors that iterations of Windows 8 currently do not utilize Dolby technologies and they are preparing to support OEMs if licensing is not included in the commercial release of Windows 8. Currently, Dolby shares (DLB) are crashing down on the news.

So what does this mean for home theater PC enthusiasts? If Dolby is not licensed, Windows 8 will not be able to decode Dolby Digital soundtracks in DVD or recorded TV playback natively. This should not affect the ability to bitstream the audio to an external decoder such as that found in an audio-video receiver (AVR). For those desiring the decoding of Dolby Digital audio, a commercial DVD playback software package that includes the Dolby license could be purchased.

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.

Kevin Yeaman, CEO, Dolby Laboratories

via CEPro

Comments

I don't see this being an issue.  It is easy enough to use a 3rd party decoder.

mikinho wrote:

I don't see this being an issue.  It is easy enough to use a 3rd party decoder.

I agree that it won't affect most end users (the majority buy OEM PCs), but it a telling signal of MS's views on the technology and maybe the place of media on the PC.

babgvant wrote:

I agree that it won't affect most end users (the majority buy OEM PCs), but it a telling signal of MS's views on the technology and maybe the place of media on the PC.

Maybe they view it as most PCs are running HDMI at this point and the future of media on the PC is letting external TVs/Receivers doing the decoding.

oliverredfox wrote:

Maybe they view it as most PCs are running HDMI at this point and the future of media on the PC is letting external TVs/Receivers doing the decoding.

Most PCs aren't connected to a TV or AVR (too lazy to look up the #s right now but I'd guess that laptops are at least 50% of PC sales at this point).  MS's current Dolby decoding license only includes their products and only for playback (i.e. WMP/7MC can decode but none of their transcoders will) so I think it's a clear signal that they don't think DVD and broadcast TV playback has a big enough user base to be worth the $ per seat.

babgvant wrote:

Most PCs aren't connected to a TV or AVR (too lazy to look up the #s right now but I'd guess that laptops are at least 50% of PC sales at this point). 

How much does a laptop's speakers/headphones benefit from DD vs non-DD audio?  I can't remember the last time I listened to non-digital so I can't really recall what the quality was like.  But most laptops I've owned haven't had much in the way of decent speakers.  Maybe it makes a bigger difference than what I'm assuming it would.

oliverredfox wrote:

How much does a laptop's speakers/headphones benefit from DD vs non-DD audio?  I can't remember the last time I listened to non-digital so I can't really recall what the quality was like.  But most laptops I've owned haven't had much in the way of decent speakers.  Maybe it makes a bigger difference than what I'm assuming it would.

Everything on a PC (and everything since we retired VHS/cassette tapes) is digital so we've been listening to all digital sources for a very long time Smile.

The problem here is that w/o a DD decoding license you won't be able to play a DVD or watch broadcast TV encoded in DD on a laptop or PC not connected to an external device that can decode DD w/o third party software (specifically a DirectShow filter).  This effectively takes us back to the MCE 2005 (and older) days where MC shipped in a broken er... incomplete state.

babgvant wrote:

This effectively takes us back to the MCE 2005 (and older) days where MC shipped in a broken er... incomplete state.

When you put it that way, yeah, I see the issue.

babgvant wrote:

I agree that it won't affect most end users (the majority buy OEM PCs), but it a telling signal of MS's views on the technology and maybe the place of media on the PC.

And this would be a definitive signal to anyone holding out hope that MS would integrate a BD player into OS.

What does this mean for Netflix and others streaming to the PC? It is likely that those services will not be getting 5.1 on the PC anytime soon.

swoon wrote:

What does this mean for Netflix and others streaming to the PC? It is likely that those services will not be getting 5.1 on the PC anytime soon.

Microsoft was working with SRS Labs on 5.1 for Silverlight and not Dolby.  Although I haven't heard much about that in while.  It was September 2010 when they announced 5.1 streaming stuff, and now a year later, still no 5.1 for PC audio in Netflix.  There were rumors of Microsoft shifting emphasis from Silverlight to HTML5 so I don't know if that influenced things.

I'm assuming that since we know that devices streaming Netflix outweigh PCs (from that survey we saw recently) that Netflix may not place much (if any) priority on getting their streams prepared for SRS technology. Every other device probably licenses Dolby.

swoon wrote:

What does this mean for Netflix and others streaming to the PC? It is likely that those services will not be getting 5.1 on the PC anytime soon.

I don't think it has any affect on that because Netflix can't piggyback on MS'd DD (or DD+) decoding license in Vista/7.

In a way, that's actually good to know.

swoon wrote:

In a way, that's actually good to know.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is a major reason why we don't have multi-channel audio support on the PC.  Hopefully we'll get a HTML 5 implementation that includes the ability to bit stream with compatible hardware...

This was what was released to do 5.1 in Silverlight.  http://www.reelseo.com/silverlight-srs-51-support-toolkit/  So unless Silverlight 6 doesn't license it for use, 5.1 will still be available.  It's up to Netflix to incorporate it on their end.  (Although, it's probably a pain for Netflix to do this method of surround sound when they already have stuff in DD)

oliverredfox wrote:

This was what was released to do 5.1 in Silverlight.  http://www.reelseo.com/silverlight-srs-51-support-toolkit/  So unless Silverlight 6 doesn't license it for use, 5.1 will still be available.  It's up to Netflix to incorporate it on their end.  (Although, it's probably a pain for Netflix to do this method of surround sound when they already have stuff in DD)

Netflix could have delivered multi-channel audio via WMAPro a long time ago (even before they switched to Silverlight), but choose not to because of device support.  They probably choose DD+ because it has a much wider support base, reencoding everything just for PC users probably isn't worth the ROI.

This is a very sad news, specially for the folks like myself that are using client PCs to do extender duties. My main system is connected to AVR so I should be ok there but for people using client pc with powered speakers need to buy something that accept and process HDMI bit stream or use TV speaker via HDMI. 

 

As Andrew mentioned, if this pans out, it is like going back to the model that existed prior to Vista when Dolby Digital license and decoding was not part of Windows. Users should still be able to install Dolby Digital decoders so that the bitstream doesn't have to be sent to an external device if not required.

A similar paradigm exists in Windows today with Blu-ray playback. Users can purchase software from ArcSoft or CyberLink, for example, which includes audio codecs for decoding audio contained in DVDs and Blu-ray.

If I remember right, the Dolby Digital decoder that Nvidia used to sell for XP MCE was fairly cheap ($20).  Heck you could just bundle it with a Video card or tuner if need be.  I think this more about Apple basically giving away Lion and Microsoft will be under pressure to meet Apple on price.  

 

jmallory wrote:

I think this more about Apple basically giving away Lion and Microsoft will be under pressure to meet Apple on price.  

It didn't seem to affect Windows 7 when Snow Leopard was also $30. I'm not sure MS is really competing directly with Apple in the OS space. Apple makes money on HW while MS makes money on SW. Apple sells almost entirely to consumers with a mostly direct line whereas MS sells mostly to business and OEMs.

You are generally making my point.  Businesses and OEMs I am sure wouldn't mind saving a couple bucks per seat on Dolby licensing that few people use.  But I agree, this is a much bigger deal to Dolby than us.  That was pretty easy money for Dolby.  

They already have Home Premium and Professional for Home and Business for that distinction. 

I don't understand Microsoft's media strategy, at the moment nobody owns the home media space, everybody has a product but no solution. Finally, during the last couple of years stars are really aligned for them to provide a complete package but they are consistently missing the point. After all the hard work they did this decade they are turning their back at the last minute.

I know excluding the Dolby Decoder is not a big deal, as there are many third party solutions. But it was there! and the price is baked into the release.

They need to keep the home space active, desktops and laptops will soon go away so they need to focus on set-tops. 

The only thing that is keeping me with media center is cable card tuner. If Boxee comes with a support for network or USB tuner, I am done!

 

aazeez1975 wrote:

They already have Home Premium and Professional for Home and Business for that distinction. 

In Windows 7,only Home Basic did not come with Media Center.  All other versions Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, and even Enterprise comes with Media Center.  I am licensed at work for 3975 copies of Windows 7 Enterprise...maybe 975 use Windows Media Player to playback DVDs.  No one uses Media Center.  So I am basically paying for 3000 Dolby Digital Licenses that I don't use.  

Do you think that the small license savings on Dolby will be passed on to you when purchasing Windows 8 for your organization?

I certainly don't think this will lessen the retail price of Windows by $1 or whatever the negotiated license fee was. Since I am unaware of the sales process of thousands of licenses to OEMs or business, I could imagine part of the license savings perhaps being used to negotiate a slightly lower price.

swoon wrote:

Do you think that the small license savings on Dolby will be passed on to you when purchasing Windows 8 for your organization?

I certainly don't think this will lessen the retail price of Windows by $1 or whatever the negotiated license fee was. Since I am unaware of the sales process of thousands of licenses to OEMs or business, I could imagine part of the license savings perhaps being used to negotiate a slightly lower price.

 

Maybe the reduced costs are passed on,  maybe they aren't. It would just be a guess on our parts.  The fact remains...the Dolby Digital license costs Microsoft "x" and that cost is passed directly to their customers and it is not hard to imagine that some of their customers may not want (and therefore do not want to pay) for that license.  

jmallory wrote:

If I remember right, the Dolby Digital decoder that Nvidia used to sell for XP MCE was fairly cheap ($20). 

No need to buy one when there's AC3Filter, Ffdshow and LAV Audio around Smile

I'm going to go out on a limb and theorize that MS may market WMC as a separate SKU.  This missing feature from Windows would be a pretty decent differentiating factor in most consumer's eyes on why they should instead spring for the WMC SKU.  WMC could be sold as a separate Windows add-on or as an entirely separate Windows OS SKU.

Does it mean that I would not be able to watch live or recorded TV with Dolby sound within Windows 8 Media Center ? I tried it in leaked Windows 8 and it works - at least in build 7989.

DANN wrote:

Does it mean that I would not be able to watch live or recorded TV with Dolby sound within Windows 8 Media Center ? I tried it in leaked Windows 8 and it works - at least in build 7989.

It doesn't.  Right now everything is just speculation.  No point in worrying until RC1.  Different alpha and beta builds will include different features.  For instance several leaked W7 builds did not have Media Center.  Did it mean something?  No.  This may lead to something but also may not.

Maybe I was not clear enough. Of course leaked versions cannot tell you everything, we have to wait till RC1 ... at least, that was just FYI. My question was: does missing Dolby support in Win8 mean also unability to decode Dolby sound from live or recorded TV ? If so I do not understand it. There is no other alternative from Microsoft how to receive air or sat TV; no other SW for DVR. Maybe to include WMC into WHS and push multimedia users to use xboxes, but there is nothing like WMC in WHS.

DANN wrote:
does missing Dolby support in Win8 mean also unability to decode Dolby sound from live or recorded TV

By default, it would mean that Dolby could not be decoded in Windows if Dolby is truly not licensed. At least under the current architecture of Windows, other filters could be used so presumably this will hold true for Windows 8 as well.

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