by Richard Lin

Microsoft celebrated the launch of the beta version of Windows Media Player 9 on September 4, 2002 at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood, California. The attendees witnessed several major improvements to the Windows Media Player family including the elimination of video buffering on streaming video, video smoothing for making 10fps video look like 30fps, streamable 5.1 audio, superior video quality over MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 at lower data rates, and finally, variable speed playback without pitch change.

Using a combination of powerful new server technology, broadband, and new player software, Windows Media 9 permits more concurrent audio and video streams without hesitation. The main focus of the new software was improving quality and ease of use which summarized Bill Gates vision for the coming decade.

While broadband users gained the most benefits from the new release, users with slower connections, but high powered Pentiums still had much to look forward to. Video smoothing uses CPU power to smooth out video frames on playback. Major improvements have also been made for internet radio broadcasters streaming at 8kbs, so that music played in these low bit rate streams don’t suffer the typical degradation and offer much improved playback quality.

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