Windows Me Brings Home Users Into the Digital World
This is the second in a four-part series about Windows Millennium Edition that will highlight each of the themes around which the new consumer operating system was developed: PC health, digital media, home networking and the online experience. Already released to manufacturing, Windows Me will be available in retail channels on Sept. 14.
REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 10, 2000 — “I’m no Steven Spielberg,”
says 61-year-old Mary Trussell of Dallas.
“To be honest, one of my videos was so bouncy it made my son seasick.”
Her son lives in Japan, and is a regular recipient of Trussell’s home videos.
But I love making movies. You can take things that are important to you, put them on the computer and send them around the world.”
For Trussell, the digital media features in Windows Me, Microsoft’s upcoming version of Windows for home users, have made keeping in touch with friends and family across the nation and around the globe easier, faster and a lot more fun.
“The features in Windows Me are very simple to use,”
says Trussell, who bought her first computer in 1992. Eight years later, Trussell says that Windows Me — thanks in no small part to its digital media features — is the version of Windows home users have been waiting for.
“The features are very intuitive. It’s so simple I never even read the instructions, which drives my engineer husband crazy.”
Trussell has spent the last 11 months testing a beta version of Windows Me. The new operating system, which will be available in retail channels on Sept. 14, was developed around four themes: PC health, home networking, the online experience and digital media. Built to be the optimal platform for home users who want access to the full range of activities offered on the Internet, Windows Me incorporates many new features that developers hope will take the fear out of getting online.
Bringing cutting-edge technology to users with little or no technology experience is one of the strongest features of Windows Me, according to Art Pettigrue, product manager for Windows Me at Microsoft.
“I think what we’re seeing today is the evolution of a new digital world,”
“Windows Me — and particularly the digital media enhancements — brings this brand new world to everyday home users so that they can take advantage of some phenomenal new technology. Windows Me really responds to what’s going on today in the computing world.”
Digital media is a core focus of Windows Me, Pettigrue added, making Windows Me the natural choice for finding, organizing, creating and playing digital movies, music, pictures and games.
Making Movies with Windows Me
For Pettigrue, the digital media advances made to the operating system reflect the vision that inspired Windows Me.
“Windows Me really lets you take advantage of the latest computing scenarios,”
“When you look back three or four years, it’s amazing how far we’ve come. Windows Me lets people organize and share information and be really creative with personal interests in ways that weren’t possible a few years ago.”
Microsoft focused on developing and enhancing the digital media features throughout the process of developing Windows Me, according to Pettigrue.
“We’ve responded to the digital entertainment explosion so that the home user can reap the benefits and take advantage of it,”
“Music, video, gaming, pictures — all of the things that you couldn’t exploit before unless you had lots of expensive equipment — are now just a click or two away.”
Windows Movie Maker, for example, allows users to digitize and edit home movies retrieved from a number of sources, including media files via the Internet or email, a digital video camera, an analog video camera or a VCR. Using a single cable, users can import videos to Movie Maker by clicking a
button, selecting the camera as the video source, and naming and saving the video file.
“Movie Maker is designed for everyone,”
“It doesn’t matter what kind of video equipment you have.”
Windows Me enables users to organize and store digital videos with the new Windows Media Player 7, which includes a media library that allows users to organize and manage video and audio files from one central location. Windows Me also includes Windows Image Acquisition (WIA), a new technology that identifies WIA-enabled digital cameras and scanners instantly when plugged in and lets users view pictures before they download them onto their PCs.
“WIA is a technology that helps users transfer digital images from cameras and scanners to their PCs,”
“Up until now, the PC and the digital camera have been treated as two separate devices. With Windows Me, the convergence of digital cameras and PCs make the two act as a single device.”
One of the best features, according to Mary Trussell, is the ability of Windows Me to compress video files.
“Digital media is huge,”
she says. Windows Me, however, compresses files into one-tenth of their original size, which makes sending movies and pictures around the world easier and quicker.
“We took some video of my Dad from a cassette and ran the tape on Movie Maker and made it into a file that we sent to people all over,”
“The compression is incredible.”
The Sound of Music
Music, according to Pettigrue, is another important feature of Windows Me.
“Windows Media Player 7 makes it really easy to get your music, organize it and store it in a fun and intuitive way,”
“We’ve improved and added technologies to make accessing the latest in music simple, easy and fast.”
With Windows Media Player 7, users can listen to music that is streamed over the Internet without having to download anything to their hard drive. Once users are ready to download, however, Windows Media Player 7 offers a number of options for storing, sharing and listening to audio files. The
feature lets users transfer music from an audio CD to digital tracks stored on the hard disk, or even transfer music to a portable device. Users can then access the tracks they like on the PC and play them in any order they want, at any time.
Windows Media Player 7 also offers features for people who listen to music the
way — on a CD. When you insert a music CD into the CD-ROM drive on the computer, Windows Media Player 7 will automatically retrieve the artist, title, and track information. And it goes further than that: the
Album Detail’ feature draws information from the built-in media guide — a database of hundreds of thousands of CD’s with artist biographies, discography, and links to other artists the listener might enjoy.
Collaboration Offers Home Users Seamless Digital Media Experience
Microsoft is working closely with several other companies to make sure that Windows Me works seamlessly with other digital media-enabled products, Pettigrue says. For example, Microsoft worked with a number of other companies during the development of Windows Me, including POPcast, AcmeCity, Fortune City, XOOM and Belkin Components.
Melody Saffrey, Universal Serial Bus (USB) product manager with Belkin Components, says the rising popularity in digital media is driven by the Internet and by users’ desire to do more with their computers.
“People want to connect more things to their computer — like their stereo systems and handheld devices,”
“It also got a big push from the Internet. There’s a demand to share information in both business and personal situations.”
Belkin’s answer to the challenge is the VideoBus II, a cable that connects a variety of camera equipment to Movie Maker via a port on the PC. VideoBus II allows users to capture video to the computer, create, edit and add sound to movies, connect devices to the PC and download and edit video from other formats.
Saffrey says Belkin was drawn to developing products that work in concert with Windows Me because of a surge in market demand.
“The technology that allows end users to bring video to their PC has reached its time for market,”
“And the system is easier to use, packed with more power, and added features that are very visible to both end users and developers. It’s just made the computer even easier to use.”
Pettigrue says he, too, is pleased with the way Windows Me has enhanced and simplified computing for users.
“With Windows Me, people can use their PCs as an entertainment device and a tool for creativity,”
“With digital media, home users can access the Internet and all the video and music capabilities it has to offer without being limited by the technology.”