Industries Embrace Unmatched
Audio Quality, Zero-Cost Streaming and Digital Rights Management
That Will Deliver Streaming Media to the Masses
REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 17 /PRNewswire/
-- Microsoft Corp. today announced the release of Microsoft®
Windows Media(TM) Technologies 4, the most innovative digital
media platform available today. The new release includes
breakthrough audio technology, developed with Microsoft Research,
that introduces a new standard for CD-quality audio on the
Internet. Leaders in the music and radio industries, top software
developers, and leading content and solution providers have
embraced the unmatched audio and video quality, proven digital
rights management, and broad range of tools in Windows Media
Technologies 4. Windows Media includes Windows Media Player,
Windows Media Services, Windows Media Tools and Windows Media
"Today's release of Windows Media
Technologies 4 sets a new standard for audio and video quality on
the Internet," said Bill Gates, chairman and CEO, Microsoft Corp. "The
delivery of Internet CD-quality audio with unprecedented
compression accelerates the availability of a whole new class of
applications and will usher in the next generation of digital
media over the Internet."
With the release of Windows Media
Technologies 4, over 40 million users of Windows Media Player --
increasing at a rate of more than one new user every second -- can
experience a new standard in audio quality on the Web. Unlike
other audio technologies, Windows Media achieves CD-quality audio
at half the size of competing formats and is preferred by users,
according to an independent study conducted by National Software
Testing Labs (http://www.nstl.com/html/windows_media.html).
In addition to superior audio quality, Windows Media Technologies
4 offers the following advantages:
* Zero-cost streaming. By offering audio and video services with no
per-stream charge, Windows Media Technologies 4 effectively breaks down
cost barriers for customers and content providers.
* Near TV-quality video. The remarkable advancements in video improve the
image quality over low-speed connections and deliver
near-broadcast-quality video over high-speed connections.
* Proven digital rights management solution. Windows Media Technologies 4
gives content publishers the ability to control and manage the
distribution and use of digital audio and video content, extending
existing distribution models and enabling new e-commerce opportunities.
New CD-Quality Internet Audio
Microsoft's dramatic improvement
in CD-quality audio is a driving factor behind the broad adoption
of music companies using Windows Media, including Sony Music
Entertainment Inc., jukebox software makers including Sonic
Foundry Inc., MusicMatch Inc. and popular digital audio players
like Nullsoft Inc.'s WinAmp and MediaScience Inc.'s Sonique
(recently acquired by America Online Inc. and Lycos Inc.,
respectively). On Monday, Columbia Records debuted Mariah Carey's
new single "HeartBreaker" exclusively in Windows Media on MSN(TM)
"We see the Internet as a great
way for our artists to connect with their fans," said John
Ingrassia, executive vice president, Columbia Records Group. "Microsoft's
streaming audio preview for Mariah Carey's 'Heartbreaker' single
really helped build excitement about the song before its release.
We look forward to working with Microsoft again in the near
Leading personal jukebox software
makers, including Sonic Foundry and MusicMatch, are choosing
Windows Media. Sonic Foundry Siren and MusicMatch JukeBox 4.1,
both available today, have taken advantage of Windows Media Audio
SDK to add native Windows Media Audio (WMA) support to their
products, which enables them to offer fast encoding and unmatched
CD-audio quality in the smallest file size.
"Sonic Foundry's Siren, our new
music jukebox, uses the Microsoft Windows Media Audio format
because it provides superior audio quality and faster compression
than alternative technologies," said Curtis Palmer, chief
technology officer, Sonic Foundry. "By using Windows Media, Sonic
Foundry's Siren is the most advanced and reliable music jukebox
"MusicMatch pioneered the first
complete personal jukebox solution, and our users have come to
expect the best from our products," said Dennis Mudd, CEO of
MusicMatch. "Windows Media Audio offers superior audio technology
for our users and, unlike its competitors, Microsoft is committed
to maintaining WMA as an open standard. It was an easy choice for
us to drop support for RealAudio in favor of Windows Media in our
newest release, MusicMatch Jukebox 4.1."
In addition, the most popular
digital audio players, including WinAmp and Sonique, have added
support for Windows Media Audio to give their users access to the
wide selection of Windows Media content. Six personal jukeboxes
and three audio players that use Windows Media Technology are
available for download at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/players/.
Users can compare the high-quality
audio for themselves by taking part in the "Hearing Is Believing"
challenge at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/daretocompare/.
Audio and video content from over 1,000 providers showcasing
Windows Media Technologies is available on MSN WindowsMedia.com,
the fastest growing audio and video guide on the Web, at http://windowsmedia.msn.com/.
Advancements in Video Quality Over
Low- and High-Speed Connections
In addition to the breakthrough
CD-quality audio, Windows Media Technologies also offers
remarkable advancements in video quality, improving image quality
in low-speed connections and delivering near-broadcast-quality
video over high-speed connections. Leading entertainment companies
such as Capitol Records are choosing the superior viewing
experience offered by Windows Media for major projects, such as
the Internet premiere of the Garth Brooks-Chris Gaines music video
"Lost in You" at http://hollywoodandvine.com/chrisgaines/.
Proven Digital Rights Management
Windows Media Technologies 4
enables digital content distribution by offering a proven digital
rights management solution, which gives artists, record labels and
studios the ability to control and manage the distribution and use
of digital audio and video content, extending existing
distribution models and enabling new e-commerce opportunities.
Windows Media has been selected for promotions and downloadable
single sales by major record labels including EMI Music's Capitol
label, Sony Music's Columbia label, and Warner Music Group's
"The CD-quality audio and rights
management capabilities of Windows Media Technologies 4 are
creating new opportunities for expanding sales of music on the
Internet," said Paul Vidich, executive vice president at Warner
Music Group. "Our recent secure download promotion with Microsoft
and CDNow substantially contributed to increased sales of Sugar
Ray's new album at CDNow each week of the two-week promotion -- it
was a great success. The rights management capabilities of Windows
Media were flexible enough to allow us to set up a clearing
operation with server side technologies that is customized
entirely to Warner Music's needs."
Windows Media Technologies rights
management system also has broad industry support from
full-service digital rights management solutions companies such as
"We fully expect Windows Media
rights management and CD-quality audio, combined with Reciprocal's
transaction clearing services, to dramatically increase the volume
of singles and albums released on the Internet, starting
immediately," said Paul Bandrowski, CEO of Reciprocal.
Tools for Cost-Effective,
Today's release of Windows Media
Technologies 4 also provides developers and content providers with
the building blocks to create cost-effective, customized solutions
to extend their individual businesses. By offering audio and video
services with zero-cost streaming, Windows Media Technologies 4
effectively breaks down cost barriers for customers and content
providers. The Windows Media Technologies advanced audio and video
capabilities are shipping today as an integrated component of
millions of copies of the Windows® operating system every month,
enabling software developers to build compelling digital media
Windows Media Player is available
immediately through Windows Update, the online extension of
Windows, giving hundreds of millions of users of Windows 95,
Windows 98 and the Windows NT® operating system immediate access
to the advanced audio and video capabilities of Windows Media.
About Windows Media Technologies
Windows Media Technologies is the
leading digital media platform, providing consumers, content
providers, solution providers, software developers and
corporations with unmatched audio and video quality. Windows Media
Technologies 4, which includes Windows Media Player, Windows Media
Services, Windows Media Tools and Windows Media Audio SDK, is
available for free download at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/
(connect-time fees may apply). Over 40 million copies -- growing
by more than one every second -- of the free Windows Media Player
have been downloaded to date.
WindowsMedia.com ( http://windowsmedia.msn.com/
), part of the MSN network of Internet services, is the
fastest-growing major audio and video guide on the Internet.
WindowsMedia.com provides access to localized audio and video
content users worldwide, including over 600 radio stations and
major music and video events from more than 1,000 content
Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the
worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company
offers a wide range of products and services for business and
personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier
and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power
of personal computing every day.
NOTE: Microsoft, Windows Media,
MSN, Windows and Windows NT are either registered trademarks or
trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other
countries. Other product and company names herein may be
trademarks of their respective owners.
For more information regarding Windows Media Technologies:
SOURCE: Microsoft Corp.