Microsoft Unveils Building Blocks for Next-Generation Digital Media at Streaming Media West 2000

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Dec. 12, 2000 – In his keynote address at
Streaming Media West 2000, Steve Ballmer, president and CEO of
Microsoft Corp., unveiled new digital media technologies that will
redefine how consumers experience digital media and expand business
possibilities for digital media commerce. Ballmer announced the
availability of Windows Media™ Audio and Video 8 and
demonstrated breakthrough improvements in audio and video quality.
Ballmer also offered the audience a sneak preview of some
next-generation digital media features of the next version of the
Microsoft Windows operating system, code-named “Whistler,”
including Windows Media Player 8. For business customers looking to
make more extensive use of streaming media, Ballmer showed a
prerelease version of Windows Media Producer, a tool that provides
knowledge workers with an easy, intuitive way to create, edit and publish
rich media content. During his address, Ballmer also highlighted a
pioneering step by NTT DoCoMo that brings streaming media to the
wireless world.

The world leader in wireless Internet, NTT DoCoMo has launched the first
commercial service that uses Windows Media to deliver streamed audio
and video to cell phones. Will Poole, vice president of the Windows
Digital Media Division at Microsoft, demonstrated – for the first time in
the United States – the Eggy, one of the new wireless devices offered by
NTT DoCoMo that allows cell phone users in Japan to watch short videos
of news clips and ads, and capture video images to share with friends
and family via a high-speed Personal Handyphone System (PHS)
network. Eggy and the new service were launched this month and are
now available in Japan. Such a service is a prelude to the wide-scale
deployment of wireless Internet services around the world to occur in the
coming years.

“We’re focusing on digital media at Microsoft in a big way because it
brings excitement to consumers and real economic benefits to
businesses,” Ballmer said. “The new technologies we’re unveiling today
create opportunities for everyone in the industry to deliver more
efficient, effective and exciting solutions for digital media.”

Today Microsoft released Windows Media Audio and Video 8, which
delivers breakthrough improvements in streamed and downloaded video
and audio quality. For the first time, with Windows Media Video 8, digital
media compression technology crosses the critical 500Kbps threshold for
delivering near-DVD-quality video, bringing video on demand within
reach for millions of today’s broadband homes. Windows Media Audio 8
achieves similar improvements, offering near-CD quality sound at 48
Kbps, which enables file sizes almost one-third the size of
MP3-formatted music of similar quality.

The quality improvements in Windows Media Audio and Video 8,
representing as much as a 30 percent improvement over previous
compression technologies, will dramatically change the digital media
experience for consumers while opening new opportunities for
businesses. Streamed audio gains fidelity at all transmission rates, and
video delivered over the Internet approaches the power and clarity of
broadcast programming, helping to support pay-per-view and
pay-per-download business models. Equally important, the efficiency of
Windows Media Audio and Video 8 lowers network distribution costs for
content providers by lowering the amount of bandwidth they need, and
increases the amount of audio and video content people can store on
their PCs and portable devices.

Starting Friday, Dec. 15, 2000, content providers can download the
new Windows Media Encoding Utility Beta from to create their own
audio and video content using Windows Media Audio and Video 8.

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