Microsoft Sets New Standard for Internet Audio and Video Quality With Windows Media Audio and Video 8

SAN JOSE, Calif., Dec. 12, 2000 — Today at Streaming Media West 2000, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft Corp. president and CEO, unveiled the new Windows Media™ Audio and Video 8 beta technology for the delivery of audio and video over the Internet. Achieving new benchmarks for the delivery of the highest-quality audio and video in the smallest bandwidth, Microsoft’s new compression technology enables the delivery of film content at near-DVD quality across Internet broadband connection speeds as low as 500 Kbps, and near-CD-quality audio streams on a 48Kbps connection. The Windows Media Audio and Video 8 beta is compatible with Microsoft® Windows Media Player 7 and 6.4, and offers content owners the benefits of improved quality and lower bandwidth costs while reaching more than 220 million Windows Media Players worldwide.

“Windows Media Audio and Video 8 redefines the consumer digital media experience by setting a new standard in quality,”
said Will Poole, vice president, Windows Digital Media Division, Microsoft Corp.
“By offering the highest quality in the smallest bandwidth, Windows Media makes the distribution of music, film and radio content more profitable for providers to reach millions of media-hungry consumers worldwide.”

Industry pioneers such as Intertainer are already embracing Windows Media Video 8 to deliver the best quality to their customers as they begin to expand distribution of full-length major motion pictures over broadband networks to PCs and set-top boxes. With films and TV content from studios including Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks SKG, Buena Vista and Miramax Films, Intertainer will begin offering content using Windows Media Video 8 next month to consumers over DSL services provided by Broadwing’s Zoomtown and Qwest in seven cities including Cincinnati, Denver and Seattle.

“At Intertainer, to deliver full-length feature films across the Internet, it is critical for us to provide the highest-quality video combined with rock-solid security,”
said Jonathan Taplin, president and CEO of Intertainer.
“Windows Media Audio and Video 8 is a technological breakthrough that will not only meet but exceed the expectations of our viewers and the major studios we work with as they embrace broadband network video distribution models.”

The Museum of Television & Radio will also use Windows Media Audio and Video 8 to bring the museum’s collection to an online audience through streamed audio and video. The Museum will make available selections from its vast collection of more than 100,000 television and radio programs covering more than 75 years of broadcast history, including news, public affairs, arts, sports, comedy, variety programs and commercial advertising, streamed from its new Web site beginning next year.

“As a museum that collects and presents television and radio programming, it is important for us to preserve the fidelity of the original works,”
said Robert M. Batscha, president of The Museum of Television & Radio.
“Windows Media Audio and Video 8 offers us the technology to do this as we open our collection to an Internet audience.”

Windows Media Audio and Video 8 includes major enhancements over other digital audio and video technologies available to content providers today. Windows Media Video 8 offers a near-DVD-quality streamed video experience at bit rates as low as 500 Kbps. Windows Media Audio 8 enables users to nearly triple audio compression compared to MP3 and receive a near-CD-quality streamed audio experience at 48 Kbps.

New Windows Media Video 8 – the Only True Motion-Picture-Ready Video Codec

  • Dramatically improved compression and resolution provide a 30 percent improvement over the industry-leading Windows Media Video 7, offering near-DVD resolution at only 500 Kbps.

  • Windows Media Video 8 is the best video for downloading movies with
    “True VBR”
    (variable bit rate) support. Breaking through the 25-second VBR barriers of other technologies, True-VBR offers unlimited variable bit-rate encoding to guarantee video quality over an entire feature-length film. Combined with its integrated digital rights management technology, Windows Media Video 8 continues to be the premier
    “movie-download ready”
    technology for film distribution across the Internet.

  • Improvements for streaming and download of video also include these:

    • Near-VHS quality at 250 Kbps with 320×240 at 24 fps resolution

    • Near-DVD quality at 500 Kbps with 640×480 at 24 fps resolution

New Windows Media Audio 8 Nearly Triples Music Storage

  • Delivering the first-ever near-CD-quality sound at about one-third the file size of MP3 (48 Kbps), Windows Media Audio 8 nearly triples the digital music storage on portable devices, PCs and CD players supporting Windows Media Audio. Download times are also more than 60 percent faster so consumers can spend more time listening to new music.

  • Wireless-ready because it offers near-CD-quality audio streams at 48 Kbps, Windows Media Audio 8 is ideal for achieving the most cost-effective audio quality for the next generation of rich media applications across wireless networks.

  • Windows Media Audio 8 offers CD quality at 64 Kbps and the highest fidelity at
    96 Kbps and above.

  • Windows Media Audio 8 offers integrated digital rights management technology and is fully compatible with Windows Media Player 6.4, Windows Media Player 7 and all consumer electronic devices that support Windows Media Audio.

Fully Backwards-Compatible

Unlike other new codec technologies introduced this year, Windows Media Audio and Video 8 is fully backwards-compatible with existing Windows Media Players including version 6.4 and 7. Windows Media Player for the Mac is planned to be updated early in 2001 to enable full support for this new technology. In addition, all the leading consumer devices supporting Windows Media Audio today – such as digital music players – already support Windows Media Audio 8 and require no technology upgrade.


Windows Media Audio and Video 8 beta technology is available today for consumers and content providers. Windows Media Player 7 users will be able to automatically download updates that enable the new video technology the first time they play any content that uses Windows Media Video 8. No update is needed to enjoy the improvements with the new Windows Media Audio 8 codec. Starting this Friday, Dec. 15, 2000, content providers can download the new Windows Media Encoding Utility Beta by to create their own audio and video content using Windows Media Audio and Video 8 at . Windows Media Audio and Video 8 and the updated encoder also will be included in next version of the Windows® operating systems (currently code-named

About Windows Media

Windows Media is the leading digital media platform, providing unmatched audio and video quality to consumers, content providers, solution providers, software developers and corporations. Windows Media offers the industry’s only integrated rights-management solution and the most scalable and reliable streaming technology tested by independent labs. Windows Media Technologies includes Windows Media Player for consumers, Windows Media Services for servers, Windows Media Tools for content creation and the Windows Media Software Development Kit (SDK) for software developers. Windows Media Player, available in 24 languages, is the fastest-growing media player. More information about Windows Media can be found at .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software – any time, any place and on any device.

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

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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