Microsoft, Industry Leaders Publish ASF Draft Specification In Collaborative Effort to Standardize Internet Streaming Media Formats

SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 10, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. and four leading industry players have collaborated to release today an updated draft version of a new specification to standardize the formats of streaming media – audio and video – used on the Internet.

Microsoft and the industry leaders – Progressive Networks Inc., Intel Corp., Adobe Systems Inc. and Vivo Software Inc. – today invited industry comment on the Advanced Streaming Format (ASF) draft specification at a public design review held in San Jose, Calif. ASF is expected to spur the growth of streaming multimedia on the Internet by increasing choice of available production tools, boosting the number of Internet broadcasts available for viewing and improving quality of these broadcasts.

The new specification has already won major industry interest and support. Progressive Networks has announced it will make ASF the primary and default file format in future releases of its RealAudio and RealVideo products. Nearly 40 companies participated in an ASF design review last month, and over 20 companies have actively contributed to the specification, including Adobe, Asymetrix Corp., AudioNet Inc., Avid Technology Inc., Cakewalk Music Software, Digital Lava Inc., Digital Media Technologies, Digital Renaissance Inc., The Duck Corp., Ephyx Technologies Ltd., FhG Thomson, ImageMind Software Inc., Intel, Liquid Audio Inc., MGI Software Corp., Midisoft Corp., Precept Software Inc., Progressive Networks, Sonic Foundry Inc., Starlight Networks Inc., Syntrillium Software Corp., Telos Systems, VDOnet Corp., Vivo, Xing Technology Corp. and others. The final version of ASF is scheduled to be released on Sept. 30.

“The plethora of incompatible streaming media file formats has severely limited industry growth,” said Bob Muglia, vice president, server applications division at Microsoft. “The widespread adoption of ASF will enable a wide range of tool vendors, content developers and webmasters to bring a rich new media experience to the Internet. Microsoft will make ASF streaming an integral part of the NetShow
™server product, as well as the DirectX® media architecture planned for delivery in future versions of the Microsoft® Internet Explorer browser and Windows® operating system.”

“This is a significant step in the streaming media industry, and Progressive Networks is pleased to have helped author the ASF specifications,” said Rob Glaser, CEO of Progressive Networks. “We believe that the streaming media industry and consumers will benefit from a standardized, extensible file format, and we will actively support this moving forward.”

“A file format that allows for expression of rich media presentation is a requirement for Internet streaming and broadcasting to reach its potential,” said Gerald Holzhammer, director of Intel Architecture Labs. “We are pleased that ASF includes innovative support for scalability and interactivity, reflecting many of the features that Intel is developing to provide the PC user with the best experience on the Internet.”

“Adobe Premiere is the industry-leading desktop digital video editing application and features Web-ready capabilities for our customers who are interested in producing video for delivery over the Internet,” said Steve Kilisky, senior product marketing manager for Adobe’s dynamic media products. “With the morass of file formats currently available for Internet streaming, we feel that a single file format standard for network delivery will engender a streamlined production process. Adobe is pleased to be part of the ASF initiative, helping to define the new standards for streaming video.”

“As a pioneer in the development of tools for streaming media, we are keenly aware of the critical role standards will play in moving this compelling technology into the mainstream of business and consumer applications,” said Zenas Hutcheson, CEO of Vivo Software. “Our products, which are used by Web developers and multimedia producers around the world to create high-impact Web content incorporating streaming audio and video, all produce ASF as a native output. Having ASF as a standard file format will simplify the process of producing and viewing Web documents using streaming media and enable streaming multimedia to become a regular feature of Internet and intranet content. The specification will provide people with new and more powerful ways to communicate their messages.”

ASF is an open file format for storing streaming multimedia content. It is designed to become the key streaming multimedia file format for intranets and the Internet, replacing separate data types such as WAV and AVI. ASF provides for integration of different media types, optimization for delivery over lossy networks, and support for multiple bandwidths within a single media file. ASF supports the synchronization of the different media types on a common time line, enabling images, HTML pages or scripted events to be synchronized with an audio track.

The innovative features of ASF, in conjunction with broad industry support, will benefit content producers, webmasters and end users. The production community can look forward to more and better tools for creating streaming media. Content producers will now only need to create a single file that can play across servers and browsers, rather than requiring separate support for multiple formats. Webmasters will be able to move content between different production and delivery systems. End users will see an increase in the overall pool of available streaming content, an increase in the amount of content viewable from individual media players, and an increase in quality of the content.

Today’s news marks the latest step in Microsoft’s efforts to provide leadership in defining an open industry standard for streaming media that will promote innovation and compatibility among products.

The draft specification of the Advanced Streaming Format, the live proceedings of the ASF public design review and instructions on how to provide feedback on ASF are available to the industry 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.

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