Earlier today (7/23/98) during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Rob Glaser, CEO of RealNetworks, made several false and misleading claims regarding how the Windows Media Player allegedly breaks RealNetworks’ players. Mr. Glaser alleged that
“Windows Media Player disrupts consumers’ use”
of RealNetworks products. This is untrue. After a day of testing his demonstration case and working hard to understand where the issues reside, Microsoft has found that the problem demonstrated by Mr. Glaser is caused by a bug in the beta version of RealNetworks’ new G2 software.
The software bug appears only if the computer user is running Netscape Navigator. The RealNetworks G2 beta software works fine with Microsoft
s Internet Explorer. Microsoft will provide information about the bug to RealNetworks, and anticipates that the company will fix it before releasing the commercial version of the RealPlayer G2. The bug does not appear in any of RealNetworks’ current products, such as RealPlayer 5, that have been commercially released.
This paper explains the RealPlayer G2 bug. For additional technical details and answers to your questions click here .
New Windows Media Player
On July 7, 1998, Microsoft released several new Windows Media Technologies, including the Windows Media Player. The Windows Media Player is a universal player that supports over twenty different file formats including Advanced Streaming Format (ASF), QuickTime, AVI, WAV, and RealAudio and RealVideo 4.0 and below formats.
Windows Media Player and RealNetworks Content
When a user installs the Windows Media Player after installing any current
(non-test) version of RealNetworks’ player, the system performs exactly as it should. Under certain circumstances, when the Windows Media Player is installed after installation of the beta version of RealNetworks’ G2 player, there is a loss of capabilities caused by a bug in the Real G2 setup program (described further below).
Web audio and video content can be offered in many different formats (more than twenty are in use today) which offer different quality and compression levels. Each version of RealSystem adds new formats.
The following table describes how content formatted for different software releases is handled in different player installation scenarios:
The RealSystem G2 and Windows Media Technologies are complex software systems. The public confusion arising from RealNetworks’ airing of an error in a new version of their software is unfortunate. Mr.
Glaser has stated that he prefers to compete on the merits of his technologies and not via government intervention. Microsoft agrees. It’s also unfortunate that an important government forum was used to advance the narrow commercial interests of a specific particular competitor. Microsoft remains willing and ready to work with the RealNetworks team to ensure that our respective software works well for the benefit of consumers.