Steve Ballmer Unveils Building Blocks for Next-Generation Digital Media Solutions at Streaming Media West 2000

SAN JOSE, Calif., Dec. 12, 2000 — In his keynote address today at Streaming Media West 2000, Steve Ballmer, president and CEO of Microsoft Corp., unveiled new digital media technologies that will redefine how consumers experience digital media and expand business possibilities for digital media commerce. Ballmer announced the availability of Windows Media™ Audio and Video 8 and demonstrated breakthrough improvements in audio and video quality. Ballmer also offered the audience a sneak preview of some next-generation digital media features of the next version of the Microsoft® Windows® operating system, code-named
“Whistler,”
including Windows Media Player 8. For business customers looking to make more extensive use of streaming media, Ballmer showed a prerelease version of Windows Media Producer, a tool that provides knowledge workers with an easy, intuitive way to create, edit and publish rich media content. During his address, Ballmer also highlighted a pioneering step by NTT DoCoMo that brings streaming media to the wireless world.

The world leader in wireless Internet, NTT DoCoMo has launched the first commercial service that uses Windows Media to deliver streamed audio and video to cell phones. Will Poole, vice president of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft, demonstrated – for the first time in the United States – the Eggy, one of the new wireless devices offered by NTT DoCoMo that allows cell phone users in Japan to watch short videos of news clips and ads, and capture video images to share with friends and family via a high-speed Personal Handyphone System (PHS) network. Eggy and the new service were launched this month and are now available in Japan. Such a service is a prelude to the wide-scale deployment of wireless Internet services around the world to occur in the coming years.

“We’re focusing on digital media at Microsoft in a big way because it brings excitement to consumers and real economic benefits to businesses,”
Ballmer said.
“The new technologies we’re unveiling today create opportunities for everyone in the industry to deliver more efficient, effective and exciting solutions for digital media.”

Windows Media Audio and Video 8 – A Breakthrough in Quality

Today Microsoft released Windows Media Audio and Video 8, which delivers breakthrough improvements in streamed and downloaded video and audio quality. For the first time, with Windows Media Video 8, digital media compression technology crosses the critical 500Kbps threshold for delivering near-DVD-quality video, bringing video on demand within reach for millions of today’s broadband homes. Windows Media Audio 8 achieves similar improvements, offering near-CD quality sound at 48 Kbps, which enables file sizes almost one-third the size of MP3-formatted music of similar quality.

The quality improvements in Windows Media Audio and Video 8, representing as much as a 30 percent improvement over previous compression technologies, will dramatically change the digital media experience for consumers while opening new opportunities for businesses. Streamed audio gains fidelity at all transmission rates, and video delivered over the Internet approaches the power and clarity of broadcast programming, helping to support pay-per-view and pay-per-download business models. Equally important, the efficiency of Windows Media Audio and Video 8 lowers network distribution costs for content providers by lowering the amount of bandwidth they need, and increases the amount of audio and video content people can store on their PCs and portable devices.

Starting this Friday, Dec. 15, 2000, content providers can download the new Windows Media Encoding Utility Beta from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/ to create their own audio and video content using Windows Media Audio and Video 8.


Whistler


– Designed to Create the Best Digital Media Experience

“Whistler”
will continue to deliver on Microsoft’s long-term vision for home computing by including an impressive range of new and improved capabilities to make the digital media experience easier, more exciting and more functional for consumers. Among the features of
“Whistler”
previewed for the first time publicly in Ballmer’s address today were these:

  • Windows Media Player 8, showing integrated support for DVD playback, easy video transfer to portable devices, and other improvements

  • New ways of viewing the My Music folder that give users more control over their digital media files, making content even easier to organize and featuring album art thumbnails for media files

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 http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia/ .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
“MSFT”
) 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 http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.asp .

Related Posts

The Digital Media Revolution

In a conversation with PressPass, Microsoft Digital Media Division Vice President Will Poole talks about the next generation of digital media and what it will mean for businesses and consumers alike.