Microsoft Announces ActiveMovie

REDMOND, Wash., March 5, 1996 — Microsoft Corp. today announced Microsoft®
ActiveMovie
™
API, the next generation of cross-platform digital video technology for the desktop and the Internet. With ActiveMovie, developers and creative professionals will be able to create and deliver stunning titles on multiple platforms with crisp synchronized audio, video and special effects. Users will benefit from the following features:

  • State-of-the-art MPEG playback for full-screen, television-quality video on mainstream systems

  • Internet playback and streaming for fast and easy playback of all popular media types on the Internet

  • A flexible, extensible and future-proof architecture for easy integration of new technologies, third-party enhancements and real-time special effects

More than 20 industry companies have announced support for ActiveMovie, as well as the OpenMPEG consortium (representing 32 companies), and the Japanese Open MPEG Windows®
Forum (representing 32 companies). This support signals that ActiveMovie will be a key API for the next generation of video on the desktop and the Internet.


ActiveMovie will do for multimedia content titles what DirectX
™technology did for games,”
said Brad Silverberg, senior vice president of the Internet platforms division at Microsoft.
“It will unleash a whole new generation of video-based titles with dazzling full-screen video and special effects.”

ActiveMovie, scheduled to be available next week in beta form, is planned to be released simultaneously for the Windows®
95 and Windows NT
™operating systems in June 1996. It is scheduled to be delivered for the Apple®
Power Macintosh
™
platform later this year.

ActiveMovie is part of a rapidly expanding family of technologies from Microsoft that makes delivering interactive content easy for tool, title and Internet content developers. ActiveMovie uses and is integrated with Microsoft DirectX technology, automatically accelerating video playback on DirectDraw
™
API-compatible graphics cards, and making possible stunning special effects and combinations of 2-D and 3-D elements with digital video. For example, ActiveMovie’s integration with the Direct3D
™
API enables special effects such as promotional presentations with video mapped to company logos and surreal characters in game play.

Comprehensive MPEG Solution Brings High-Quality Video to the Consumer Desktop

ActiveMovie provides a comprehensive set of services for playback of MPEG movies, bringing users the best-quality video available today on mainstream systems. ActiveMovie is capable of decoding MPEG entirely in software and playing it back full screen on an Intel® 90 Mhz Pentium®
-based PC with a low-cost graphics adapter at 24 frames-per-second with 11 KHz stereo. Customers accustomed to titles with small-window video and fuzzy audio will now be able see full-screen, television-quality movies accompanied by high-quality stereo sound.

To provide the power to play interactive MPEG-based titles and emerging high-quality MPEG II movies, ActiveMovie has been designed to take advantage of MPEG decoding hardware transparently. With MPEG-based hardware, consumers will be able to experience crisp interaction with filmed people or characters in games and training applications in real time and play a wide variety of digital video disk (DVD) MPEG II-based movies and titles on their computers. DVD MPEG II movies are authored to play back at movie-theater-like quality and are anticipated to be broadly available in late 1996 and 1997.

Comprehensive Cross-Platform Solution Benefits Internet, Content and Tool Developers

ActiveMovie will make the previously cumbersome task of creating and manipulating digital video in editing tools, CD and Internet applications substantially easier and will allow developers to deliver content that plays on the Windows 95, Windows NT and Power Macintosh platforms.

For Internet applications and content, ActiveMovie provides easy-to-integrate video and audio playback services. The beta software development kit (SDK) includes an easy-to-use OLE Control that Internet developers can use to add video playback and real-time media streaming to Internet applications. ActiveMovie is scheduled to be integrated with and included in the next release of Microsoft Internet Explorer, enabling Internet users to play back popular media formats on the Web efficiently, including MPEG Audio and Video, .AVI files, QuickTime®
, AU, .WAV, MIDI and AIFF.

ActiveMovie’s flexible architecture and system of replaceable
“filters”
allows tool and content developers to easily develop products that improve or modify video playback in real time and incorporate the latest in special effects into titles. Filters are an extensible set of ActiveMovie components that perform functions such as retrieving video from a CD and decompressing that video from its stored digital format. Developers can easily replace, modify or add to a set of provided filters to modify and enhance video and audio playback. For example, an educational music-title vendor could easily provide its customers with the capability to dynamically select and mix sounds from different musical instruments in a music video, and a video-editing tool company could easily create a set of filters to allow customers to add contrast, transition and lighting effects to movies.

Leading Content, Tool and Hardware Developers Announce Support for ActiveMovie API

More than 20 software developers, hardware vendors and OEMs support ActiveMovie, including Adobe Systems Inc., Intel Corp., Macromedia Inc. and Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., and others have pledged support for Active Movie. These companies and others have been working with a preliminary beta version of ActiveMovie for the past five months.

“Active Movie’s flexible architecture will provide content developers with a standard way to manipulate and play back digital video,”
said Mike Aymar, vice president and general manager of the desktop products group at Intel.
“Support for MPEG video and Intel’s Indeo®
Video Interactive will provide great-looking full-screen video on Pentium processor-based systems. Microsoft’s commitment to support Intel MMX
™technology in ActiveMovie will provide even more compelling video for users.”

“ActiveMovie’s MPEG video support across manufacturers is exactly what content developers such as the Encarta® group need,”
said Jay Gibson, group program manager in the reference group at Microsoft.
“ActiveMovie’s software MPEG playback will set a broadly supported API standard that gives us assurance we can build MPEG-based products that play back well across the PC platform.”


Adobe
™Premiere provides a great solution for content developers on Windows today,”
said Steve Kilisky, product marketing manager for Adobe Premiere.
“With ActiveMovie, we expect our customers to be able to manipulate larger, high-quality movies and achieve smooth playback.”

“Active Movie represents the strong movement toward establishing MPEG-1 as the standard video file format for full motion video and CD-quality audio,”
said Chip Stearns, general manager of multimedia at S3 Inc.
“The Active Movie architecture provides full compatibility with existing MPEG applications, while providing a new set of APIs to enable highly interactive 32-bit applications.”

Delivery and Availability

ActiveMovie is scheduled to ship to software developers and hardware manufactures in June 1996 for redistribution at no charge. Customers can expect software titles incorporating ActiveMovie technology to be on the market this summer. Developers who want to request information about ActiveMovie should send electronic mail to mmdinfo@microsoft.com.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
“MSFT”
) 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.

Microsoft, ActiveMovie, Windows, Windows NT, DirectX, DirectDraw, Direct3D and Encarta are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Apple and QuickTime are registered trademarks and Power Macintosh is a trademark of Apple Computer Inc.

Intel, Pentium and Indeo are registered trademarks and MMX is a trademark of Intel Corp.

Adobe is a trademark of Adobe Systems Inc.

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