Microsoft and Panasonic announce new digital media storage standard

Microsoft and Panasonic have announced HighMAT — “High-Performance Media Access Technology”.

HighMAT just specifies that music should go in one directory, pictures in another, and video in another. Plus, there’s an index file with some metadata so that the player doesn’t have to seek to and read from every file when you insert the CD.

That’s nice, I guess. Obviously, the name for the specification (it’s hardly a technology) is far too grandiose for what it actually is. If they’d invented the phone book, they’d have called it HiPAT (“High-Performance Person Access Technology”).

There are two reasons that HighMAT probably doesn’t have a future. (1) The specification deals with Windows Media Audio and Windows Media Video, but not other proprietary formats. (2) Microsoft will apparently be “licensing” the “technology”. This licensing is currently free to some vendors, but an ITworld.com article makes it clear that they’re reserving the right to impose fees on others. Since licensing is already discriminatory, there’s absolutely no assurance that licensing fees will be reasonable. Scary.

So, who wants to start an open-source specification that achieves the same objectives? Link