Supermarket giant Tesco and Software behemoth Microsoft will join forces together to sell digital movies that will be using Microsoft's rich media platform, Silverlight.
The "Virtual DVDs" will be available as from this autumn in Tesco Stores and may offer the same set of features as found on Blu-ray discs through the BD-Live feature.
Customers will buy the movies in Tesco stores (and online) before downloading them directly on their computers, possibly as a single contained file (à la RatDVD through a Content Delivery Network) and will offer the same entertainment value as the physical product without the actual media.
This would mean the same extra features like exclusive bonus content, auto-updated trailers, the ability to chat online with other viewers and fans and potentially other marketing products like ringtones, MP3s and games.
Rob Salter, category director for entertainment at Tesco, commented on the release, saying that "For the first time, consumers will be able to enjoy a DVD equivalent experience with digital movies, which paves the way for more advanced viewing experiences enabled through Silverlight".
Microsoft will be relying on its own Playready Digital Rights Management platform to make sure that the solution doesn't get hacked by pirates. Tesco already has a thriving downloads and DVD rental section and could be looking to add another category to its offerings.
Tesco already has a film and TV digital download section (still in beta version) on tescodigital.com where punters can either download or stream movies but relies on Flash 10 rather than Silverlight for delivery.
Microsoft can use all the help it gets to spread the gospel of Silverlight across the land. Tesco's capture is significant since it not only constitute a major leap of faith for the distribution giant but also services as a case study for the rest of the entertainment market.