SAN FRANCISCO, March 12, 1996 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that leading multimedia technology companies are working with the company in an open review process to support the Microsoft®
Streaming Format (.asf or ASF), a new data-independent format for storing and transmitting multimedia content for the Internet and corporate networks. In addition, Microsoft announced an ActiveMovie add-on toolkit for streaming media, designed to allow software developers to deliver real-time audio and video content in many types of applications. More than 40 ISVs, Webmasters and content companies plan to use the ActiveMovie add-on toolkit for creating and delivering new multimedia
content. Additional network operators, systems integrators and OEM companies will also participate in the open review process.
The ActiveMovie Streaming Format is an open and extensible data-independent format for archiving, annotating, indexing and transmitting synchronized multimedia content. More specifically, ASF allows multiple data objects (for example, audio objects, video objects, still images, events, URLs, hypertext markup language (HTML) pages, and programs) to be combined and stored into a single synchronized multimedia stream. It provides an encapsulation that allows existing popular media types and formats such as MPEG, AVI, .WAV and Apple® QuickTime®
to be synchronized and stored efficiently on a variety of servers. ASF data is network transport neutral and can be transmitted over a variety of protocols and networks, including TCP/IP, UDP, RTP, IPX/SPX and ATM. ASF addresses a number of important issues in multimedia-content storage and transmission, such as efficient packetization for multiple network transports, a flexible timing model, support for multiple bit rates, streaming broadcast, error correction and concealment, and the ability to support future media types through dynamic extension. Because ASF files can be streamed, playback of these files can begin immediately. Microsoft will provide the format specification on the Internet and work with Internet standard bodies to facilitate the adoption of this technology.
Users will be able to efficiently play back ASF content using ActiveMovie, Microsoft’s next generation, cross-platform video technology for the desktop. ActiveMovie technology is part of the rapidly expanding family of enabling technologies from Microsoft that makes delivering interactive content easier for tool, title and Internet content developers. ActiveMovie provides a single component model for manipulating multimedia data, enabling developers to program to one set of APIs for both streaming and nonstreaming data. The ActiveMovie add-on toolkit contains a streaming format editor that enables developers to create rich multimedia content specifically targeted toward the Internet and intranet environments. For example, content created with the toolkit can be stored on any HTTP server and incorporated in HTML Internet and intranet Web pages. ASF content developed today will easily migrate to the upcoming release of Microsoft Media Server (formerly code-named
“This is an example of how we are able to extend key technologies we have developed for the broadband world to address the needs of private and public networks and the Internet,”
said Craig Mundie, senior vice president of the consumer platforms division at Microsoft.
“Today, developers and content providers are able to enrich their existing Web sites by deploying multimedia content. This technology is an incremental step in delivering real-time audio and visual applications within an open, extensible architecture.”
“Progressive Networks is very enthusiastic about working with Microsoft on the ASF format and we intend to build support for the format into our industry-leading RealAudio products,”
said Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO of Progressive Networks.
“Microsoft’s leadership in offering ASF is very important to the market,”
said Asaf Mohr, president and CEO of VDOnet Corp.
By making it easier to develop VDOLive
™applications, Internet users will more easily be able to enjoy the benefits of Internet video.”
“Starlight has been networking corporate multimedia applications since 1992 and has always predicted that over time these applications would become more and more sophisticated and need to be operated on more complex networks,”
said Jim Long, CEO of Starlight Networks Inc.
“Standardizing multimedia formats will enable easier development of more sophisticated networked media applications. Microsoft’s new ASF format provides a much better format than existing methods for organizing the many media objects – such as video, audio, stills and URLs – found in multimedia applications; it also provides a framework to support many types of networks.”
“As Asymetrix continues to design products that are category leaders in productivity, ease of use, and value, we are excited to be working with Microsoft to define the ASF format,”
said Steve Martino, vice president of marketing at Asymetrix Corp.
“We believe that development of a standard interface that allows developers to program to one set of APIs for both streaming and nonstreaming data will open new market opportunities for interactive multimedia content over high-bandwidth networks and the Internet. We are committed to delivering this type of potential to our customers.”
“As a leading developer of RTP-based software and applications, we are looking forward to working with Microsoft to optimize the way in which files based on Microsoft’s new ActiveMovie Streaming Format are transmitted across IP networks,”
said Judy Estrin, president and CEO of Precept Software Inc.
“This effort to provide an open and extensible streaming format for a variety of new media combinations will be a big advance for content developers to create exciting new applications for the Internet,”
said Ron Whittier, senior vice president and general manager, content group, Intel Corp.
“We look forward to our continued work with Microsoft, independent software vendors and content providers to complete the specification and to the new capabilities provided on the Internet.”
More than 40 leading multimedia, content provider, tools and Webmaster companies announced plans to support the ASF format. They include Adobe Systems Inc., Aimtech Corp., Aspect Computer Pty Ltd., Asymetrix Corp., Avid Technology Inc., Brock International, Center for Multimedia Inc., Chase Manhattan Bank N.A., Cisco Systems Inc., Cyberia Caf
, Datawiz, EZ Communications, European Football Site 1996, Fine.com Corp., Folio Corp., FreeRange Media Inc., Gold Disk Inc., Harrow Media Pty Ltd., Hyperion Software, Interactive Digital Communications Inc., Interworld Technology Ventures, Latitude Communications, Macromedia Inc., Music Choice, National Semiconductor Corp., Nationwide Building Society, NBC Desktop Video, On Ramp, Owens Corning, Parian Development Group Inc., Pennzoil Co., Precept Software Inc., Saltmine Creative Inc., Sargento Foods’ Recipes of America, Starlight Networks Inc., The Network Connection Inc., Taylor Subscription Talk, TRO Learning Inc., USA Networks, U.S. Bancorp, VDONet Corp., Vivo Software Inc., VocalTec Ltd. and Xing Technology Corp. Companies that are continuing to work with Microsoft and that will be involved in the open review process include Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp., FORE Systems Inc., General Instrument, Intel Corp., Korea Telecom, NEC Technologies Inc., NTT, Precept Software Inc., Progressive Networks, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and US West Communication Services Inc.
The ActiveMovie add-on toolkit for streaming media includes the following features:
ASF Editor, a graphical authoring tool for creating ASF files
ActiveMovie Software Development Kit (SDK), a limited SDK that includes Object interface documentation and code samples enabling incorporation of ASF playback capability within applications
ActiveMovie Filter, an add-on component to the ActiveMovie system that works with Internet browser software allowing local playback of ActiveMovie files
Content sample files, ASF content provided by more than 10 third-party companies demonstrating ASF and ActiveMovie features
An alpha version of the software, including multimedia content demos, was distributed to attendees at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) 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 and ActiveMovie are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
Apple and QuickTime are registered trademarks of Apple Computer Inc.
VDOLive is a trademark of VDOnet Corp.
Note to editors: Information regarding ActiveMovie is posted at http://www. microsoft.com
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