Microsoft Announces Internet-Enabled Multimedia File Formats

REDMOND, Wash., March 31,1997 — As part of the strategy to drive the convergence of multimedia and the Internet, Microsoft Corp. today announced two media-rich multimedia file formats. With Microsoft® DirectX
files and the Active Streaming Format (ASF), developers will be able to incorporate predefined objects into applications and stream content over the Internet and intranets.

DirectX Files

The DirectX files are the native file format for the DirectX set of APIs providing support for importing predefined multimedia objects into interactive applications. The files are records that can be incorporated into industry-leading container file formats such as 3DS, VRML 2.0 and OMF. The current version of DirectX files supports 3-D graphics with other media types such as 2-D graphics, sound and animation. The DirectX files present tremendous opportunities for developers to license media assets for incorporation into titles, removing the need to create original art or media objects.

Active Streaming Format

ASF is a powerful streaming container file format that allows content and tool developers to stream multimedia objects at distinct bit rates (14.4 Kbps to 6 Mbps) over the Internet and intranets. These multimedia objects include audio, video, still images, events, URLs, HTML pages, script commands and executable programs. ASF retains all forms of media and synchronization information so that when the file is played over a network, the user sees and hears the file exactly as the creator of the file intended. ASF multimedia streams can be stored on traditional file servers, HTTP servers or specialized media servers and can be transmitted efficiently over a variety of different network transports such as TCP/IP, UDP/IP, RTP and HTTP. Data may be sent as either unicast (one point to one point) or multicast (one point to many points). Streams permit media to be rendered as they are received, rather than after the file is fully downloaded, allowing playback to begin sooner.

“The new DirectX multimedia architecture is focused on the convergence of interactive media and the Internet,” said Eric Engstrom, general manager of DirectX media at Microsoft. “To complement the powerful API services of DirectX, developers requested file formats that can be integrated with existing container files and facilitate delivery over the Internet. We’ve been successful on both counts with DirectX files and ASF and have received unprecedented endorsement from our major developers.”

“DirectX files are helping Viewpoint reach new markets for 3-D content,” said Ken Krull, desktop product manager at Viewpoint DataLabs. “We’ve made available thousands of models in the DirectX file format so developers can eliminate the resource-intensive step of 3-D content creation. Our DirectX-based models are already in the hands of tens of thousands of developers and are being used to create next-generation titles and Web sites.”

“Compelling mutlimedia on the Web combines streaming datatypes like audio and video with images and scripting,” said Dr. Staffan Ericsson, chairman of Vivo Software Inc. “ASF gives content developers the power to create active content, combining any combination of these

elements, and take full advantage of the power of the Web as a medium.”

The following companies are endorsing the DirectX and ASF file formats: Aimtech Corp., Asymetrix Corp., Liquid Audio Inc., Macromedia Inc., MGI Software Corp., Sonic Foundry Inc., Telos Systems, Vivo Software Inc., VXtreme Inc. and Xing Technology Corp.


Specifications for the DirectX files and the Active Streaming Format are available today to developers as part of DirectX 5.0 and NetShow
networked multimedia software 2.0. The specification for the DirectX files can be downloaded from the Web site for DirectX at A white paper with more information on ASF can be downloaded from the Web site for NetShow at .

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, DirectX and NetShow 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.

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