Microsoft Unveils First Unified Multimedia API Strategy

REDMOND, Wash., March 31, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today unveiled a comprehensive new multimedia API strategy designed to provide content and tool developers with the system services and file formats to create next-generation multimedia tools and content. The strategy builds on the success of Microsoft® DirectX
, a set of low-level application programming interfaces (APIs) that provides transparent access to hardware acceleration through a standard interface.

The DirectX set of APIs has been expanded to include two distinct layers of service: DirectX foundation, the low-level hardware acceleration services already used extensively in the game and entertainment markets; and DirectX media, a new layer of high-level, cross-platform services that makes it easy for developers to integrate and stream video, audio, 3-D animation and other media types. DirectX forms the multimedia system services of the Active Platform, which incorporates Microsoft Internet Explorer and the Windows® 95 and Windows NT® operating systems to provide developers with the platform, tools and services to create cross-device, network-enabled content.

“With DirectX 5.0, we’re taking multimedia mainstream,” said John Ludwig, vice president of the Internet client and collaboration division at Microsoft. “Developers can now use the powerful DirectX system services to add rich full-media capabilities to client- and server-based applications and content. Consumers are about to experience unprecedented levels of realism, interactivity and immersion in a new generation of DirectX content on Windows and Microsoft Internet Explorer.”

Industry’s First Unified Set of Multimedia APIs

The new unified DirectX APIs and file formats are the industry’s first to provide the unique system services that satisfy the requirements of developers in four key areas of innovation:

  • Authoring tools. Creators of tools for video production, 3-D animation, cross-media authoring and music production

  • Net publishing. Online advertising, training, desktop broadcast and VRML worlds

  • Real-time communications. Videoconferencing, online presentations, online chat and collaboration

  • Games and entertainment. Online multiplayer games, 3-D virtual chat worlds and Internet concerts

More than 2.4 million software developers worldwide develop applications for an installed base of 70 million users of Microsoft Windows. With the Active Platform and DirectX, Microsoft offers developers a unified solution that accommodates the open, cross-platform paradigm of the Internet, provides familiar development tools based on Microsoft technologies, takes advantage of the latest hardware advances in personal computers and provides entree to the 70 million desktops running Microsoft platforms.

New Business Opportunities

In addition to supporting the requirements of four target developer groups, Microsoft intends to open new opportunities for developers with DirectX. These include media asset publishing, cross-media authoring tools, plug-ins for authoring tools, VRML 2.0 content and tools, and multiplayer games.

“We’re excited about the industry that has evolved around DirectX,” said Kevin Dallas, group product manager for DirectX at Microsoft. “We did two things right: One, we listened to our developers; two, we’ve incorporated that input with a laser-beam focus on creating new opportunities for our developers. We’re entering the next generation for DirectX.”

Continuing a policy of working closely with developers, Microsoft has defined the DirectX strategy around three clear common developer requirements: rapid application development (RAD, enabling significant time reductions in creating multimedia content), author-once content and code (services and file formats that allow content to be scaled to the processing power of the playback device and available bandwidth), and unparalleled access to consumers (the ability to deliver content on a wide range of devices, both PC and specialized). Additional details are available in a separate but related announcement released today, “Microsoft Evolves DirectX Multimedia API Services.”

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, 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.

*Note to editors: Industry Comment Quote Sheet attached. Images available upon request.

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Leading Industry Analysts and Third Parties Voice Support

For Microsoft DirectX

“Developers have been crippled by a lack of consistent APIs and are hungry for a unified solution. By extending the reach of DirectX
beyond games to mainstream applications, we believe that Microsoft is executing the first comprehensive initiative to bring disparate multimedia developers together under one banner quickly. The new cross-device, Internet-ready DirectX technologies allow developers to speed application development, create once and distribute to many across multiple platforms, and leverage their media assets – the way that most multimedia developers are choosing to go.”

– Omid Rahmat

Jon Peddie Associates

“At Intel we are continually advancing multimedia and 3-D graphics technology through initiatives such as Visual Computing and industry standards such as MMX
™technology and the Accelerated Graphics Port (A.G.P.). The Microsoft® DirectX system services provide application developers with an excellent interface to access these technologies, reaffirming the synergistic potential of Internet-based applications and multimedia PCs and delivering a rich interactive experience second to none by Christmas ’97.”

– Mike Aymar

Vice President and General Manager Desktop Products Group

Intel Corp.

“We’re using DirectPlay® technology to link the over 1 million access points for the public PC together. We’re using an advertising model so game developers not only can create a game, but can actually attach ads directly to that game. It creates an entirely new opportunity for game developers and advertisers to work together – we’ve created a business that wasn’t available six months ago. That’s the kind of opening the DirectX technologies are providing – if you’ve got the creative mind to think of a business model for multimedia on the Net, DirectX is where you’ll want to look for the technologies to implement it.”

– John Klayh


National Amusement Network

“Our whole goal is author once, publish anywhere. The key is to go across delivery platforms, be it floppy, CD, DVD, the Internet or combinations. DirectX has the APIs that work across both the desktop and the Internet, making it easier for people to create content.”

– Norm Meyrowitz

Senior Vice President of Engineering

Macromedia Inc.

“DirectX makes our customer support challenge a lot easier. We’re getting pretty close to plug-and-play both on the consumer side and on the developer side. That makes life easier for everybody and lets us focus on the real value – the entertainment experience. We anticipate the expanded DirectX will continue this legacy of giving us more options, more control and the ability to focus more on delivering a better experience to our customers.”

– Gary Griffits

President and CEO


“ASF is an important format for Sonic Foundry because it allows audio, video and images to be tied together in one common format. This is important not only for the end user to be able to see a more robust and more visual presentation, but for the broadcaster who is also traditionally relaying media over cable – and now is able to use tools on the Internet.”

– Rimas Buinevicius

Chief Executive Officer

Sonic Foundry Inc.

“We’re really excited about the direction Microsoft is taking with DirectX. The evolution of the Internet into a seamless extension of the desktop is where Mpath thinks multiplayer gaming needs to be. The new services in DirectX will give us the right APIs to get there.”

– Rob Csongor

Director, Marketing

Mpath Foundation Group

“Starwave has been a pioneer in creating interactive multimedia content and was one of the first to deploy Java Applets in Web sites. Unfortunately, the applets have been limited by the multimedia Java
™can provide. The addition of DirectX on all three major platforms, UNIX, Mac and, obviously, Windows® , gives us the universal capability of creating much more compelling experiences for our users.”

– Patrick Naughton

Senior Vice President Technology/CTO

Starwave Corp.

“DirectX has allowed us to create a more compelling game experience than we were able to achieve under Windows. The DirectX APIs have allowed us to write in accelerated graphic and in accelerated audio by bypassing much of the operating system. It is only with DirectX that we’re now able to create compelling game experiences for twitch-based and sports-based games under Windows 95.”

– Paul Lee

General Manager

EA Sports

“DirectX files are helping Viewpoint reach new markets for 3-D content. 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 models are already in the hands of tens of thousands of developers and are being used to create next-generation titles and Web sites.”

– Ken Krull

Desktop Product Manager

Viewpoint DataLabs International

Microsoft, DirectX, DirectPlay and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

MMX is a trademark of Intel Corp.

Java is a trademark of Sun Microsystems Inc.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners

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