Microsoft Introduces Next Generation of Streaming Media

Los Angeles, April 13, 1999 — As more consumers turn to their PCs for audio and video entertainment, technology vendors are challenged to provide consumers with high-quality media while also enabling content providers to build profitable business models and reach new markets. Today at the Audisee ’99 press conference and celebration at the House of Blues, Microsoft announced the availability of Windows Media Technologies 4.0 beta, a major upgrade to the successful streaming media platform that offers higher audio and video quality, improved electronic commerce solutions, and a flexible content-rights-management system.

Windows Media Technologies 4.0 beta uses the most advanced algorithms available to deliver content at the widest possible frequency range, resulting in FM-quality sound at speeds as low as 20kbps. This also allows for high-quality download-and-play music with files half the size of equivalent-quality MP3 files. Video quality is also greatly enhanced, improving to near-broadcast quality over ADSL and cable modem connections.

This upgrade to the industry’s fastest-growing streaming media platform has already won enthusiastic support from independent record labels and Internet content providers. These groups are taking advantage of this major software upgrade to enhance their offerings and provide users with major improvements in audio and video quality, digital media creation, and electronic-commerce solutions.

“I am always looking for new ways to present the music created by the artists I work with to a larger audience,” said William Hein, co-president of Restless Records, a Regency Enterprises company. “I’m impressed with the high fidelity of Windows Media compression software and intend to use it aggressively as a marketing tool to reach new audiences.”

“Microsoft Windows Media Technologies 4.0 is the single most exciting development to come along for the advancement of streaming music in years,” said Stephen Felisan, vice president of Technology and Development, House of Blues Digital. “This technology will enable House of Blues to bring its high-quality music experience to thousands of music lovers worldwide across the Internet at higher fidelity and lower bandwidth requirements than ever.”

Windows Media Technologies 4.0 beta also includes the Windows Media Rights Manager, a system that allows artists and publishers to broadly distribute their content while requiring a license for consumers to play the content. Other innovative features include new wizards and templates to facilitate easy setup of electronic commerce solutions; faster and easier encoding; Intelligent Streaming; and a software developers kit (SDK) for integrating Windows Media functionality into existing applications.

Separately, Microsoft today announced a complete, end-to-end digital rights management (DRM) solution from Reciprocal, tailored for the music industry. The solution is based on the Windows Media Rights Manager to enable content providers to package audio and video in a way that users can easily verify its authenticity and obtain licenses for use. This solution makes it easier for artists, publishers and distributors to bring their content into the digital marketplace on a scale and budget that meets their needs.

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