Bill Gates Unveils the Next Wave of Digital Media With Windows Media 9 Series

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 4, 2002 —
This evening at the Hollywood and Highlands Complex, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced the immediate public beta release of the Windows Media (TM) 9 Series platform. During a keynote address attended by more than 1,000 media and entertainment executives, technology professionals and development partners, Gates was joined on stage by Academy-Award-winning film director James Cameron; Sir George Martin, the legendary producer, composer and arranger best known for his work with the Beatles; and major music artist and film actor LL Cool J. Together they highlighted the ways by which Windows Media 9 Series innovations can transform how consumers enjoy media and entertainment, how businesses communicate, and how artists can create and reach their audiences.

“Windows Media 9 Series is the culmination of years of research and development designed to realize the true potential of digital media on the PC,” Gates said. “Tonight we join our partners across the computer, entertainment and consumer electronics industries to celebrate the release of software that will help power the next wave of digital media.”

With innovations such as high-definition video at six times the resolution of DVD, the first 5.1-channel surround sound streaming audio, and a faster, more-television-like experience with media on the Web using Fast Streaming, the Windows Media 9 Series platform offers benefits for the media and entertainment industry, consumers in the home, and in how businesses communicate.

Offering New Opportunities for the Media and Entertainment Industry

In the media and entertainment community, Windows Media already is changing the way music is distributed, films are made and talent is discovered, through music subscription services, the use of digital dailies and the availability of sample reels online. “Technology has always been a key part of my palette as an artist and filmmaker,” said Cameron, whose company’s digital distribution arm,, has been broadcasting on the Internet for the past two years using Windows Media. “Digital media is transforming our industry at every level, from the iterative process of creating the film itself with digital dailies to the promotion and distribution of our work via the Internet and on physical formats such as CD and DVD, even to the big screen of the theater itself with the promise of digital cinema.”

The high-definition video and 5.1-channel surround sound capabilities of Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series offer filmmakers and recording artists compelling new ways to reach new audiences. International recording star Peter Gabriel’s upcoming album, “UP,” will be the first album ever to be made available digitally on the Web offering a 5.1- channel surround sound audio experience. The album will be released using the new Windows Media Audio Professional (WMA Pro), the Web’s first digital 5.1-channel surround sound audio codec.

“I remember very well the day when I first put on a pair of headphones and got a great sense of stereo for the first time, and I’m getting the same sense of excitement from 5.1,” Gabriel said. “With a lot of my work, which uses many textures to create pictures in sound, it’s often hard to hear all the information; at last with 5.1 it’s possible to put people right inside my music. Through this new technology, artists can deliver this experience directly and instantly anywhere around the world.”

This breakthrough audio experience on the Web will be released for download simultaneously with Gabriel’s new CD on Sept. 25, and only be experienced with the new Windows Media Player 9 Series available today.

Better Experience for the Home

Windows Media Player 9 Series offers faster and more flexible ways for consumers to enjoy their digital media combined with powerful features for the audiophile. New Smart Jukebox features make managing even the largest digital media collections effortless. Built-in access to a broad choice of leading music and video subscription services provides a wealth of popular content that’s easy to discover and enjoy. Users can easily take their media with them, with built-in enhanced CD-burning features and support on more than 170 devices, including DVD players, portable music devices, car stereos, Pocket PCs, next-generation wireless handsets and digital audio receivers.

More Opportunities for Business

Windows Media 9 Series Fast Streaming technology enables Web sites and subscription services to offer their customers the ability to surf their streaming music, films and other content with the same ease they surf channels on their television. In addition, compression innovations in Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series can reduce bandwidth costs by 20 percent for audio and as much as 50 percent for video. Improved server scalability with Windows Media Services 9 Series in Windows®
.NET Server doubles the streaming capacity of existing server hardware to get the most out of existing infrastructure investments.

As a platform for enterprises, Windows Media 9 Series scales up to reduce streaming costs and scales out to reach employees enterprisewide, making it easier, more economical and more compelling for companies to use digital media to improve corporate communications and training. And for hardware and software developers, Windows Media 9 Series offers new opportunities to easily build powerful audio and video support into their products, and to develop powerful digital media services and solutions on the Windows Media 9 Series foundation.

The Foundation for a Digital Future: Windows Media 9 Series

Windows Media 9 Series offers a foundation for the digital future of the media and entertainment industry, consumers, developers and business. It includes several key components to deliver breakthrough digital media capabilities:

  • Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series , which provides unmatched audio and video quality at any bit rate and the first 5.1-channel surround sound codec for the Web

  • Windows Media Encoder 9 Series , for creating live and on-demand audio and video content

  • Windows Media Services 9 Series in Windows .NET Server, the new streaming server

  • Windows Media Player 9 Series , a new version of the popular media player

  • Windows Media 9 Series Software Development Kit (SDK) , which enables third parties to easily build powerful digital media products and services

Together, these components transform digital media by delivering the following:

  • The ultimate playback experience. Fast Streaming technology brings a more-television-like experience to the Web, delivering instant-on, always-on streaming for broadband users and dramatic improvements for dial-up users. Intelligent Streaming technology automatically adjusts to give the best experience for viewing audio and video over the Web based on a user’s connection. A new version of Windows Media Player provides a wealth of new features and improvements to make it faster, easier and more flexible for digital music and video fans to have ultimate control over their digital music and video collections, including new built-in Smart Jukebox features for effortless management of even the largest media collections.

  • Unmatched audio and video quality. Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series offers the best audio and video quality at any bit rate. Compression is enhanced by 20 percent for audio and by as much as 50 percent for video compared with the previous version. A new range of professional-level audio and video codecs offers audiophile- quality lossless sound reproduction, high-definition video with up to six times the resolution of today’s DVDs, and the Web’s first digital 5.1-channel surround sound audio codec, enabling Web-based delivery of home-theater-like experiences. New compression technologies also dramatically improve the digital media experience at dial-up rates with the new Windows Media Voice codec, for improved streaming radio, and Video Frame Smoothing in Windows Media Player, which improves the playback quality of low-bit-rate video.

  • The most comprehensive platform. Windows Media 9 Series offers an industrial-strength foundation for businesses and developers to create their own unique solutions and services. Windows Media Services 9 Series in Windows .NET Server enables businesses or Web sites to reach more people with less hardware by doubling the number of streams that can be delivered per server, offering more than 20,000 20Kbps streams per server using state-of-the- art- server hardware such as the Dell PowerEdge 2650 with two Intel Xeon Processors at 2.4 GHz. Software developers now have unprecedented access to the player, server, encoder, and audio and video codecs, with extensive plug-in models and broad programming language support using the Windows Media 9 Series SDK. These innovations open up new opportunities for developers and subscription services to create their own products and services with Windows Media 9 Series technology.


The beta version of the entire Windows Media 9 Series platform including the new versions of Windows Media Player 9 Series, Windows Media Encoder and Windows Media 9 Series SDK is now available for public download at .

About Windows Media

Windows Media is the leading digital media platform, used by consumers, content providers, solution providers, software developers and corporations throughout the world. The new Windows Media 9 Series will power the next wave of digital media, delivering the best playback experience, unmatched audio and video quality, integrated optional digital rights management technology, and is the most comprehensive platform for developing digital media products and services. The Windows Media platform includes Windows Media Player; Windows Media Services, the powerful streaming server for distributing content; Windows Media Encoder for content creation; Windows Media Audio and Video for the best-quality audio and video; Windows Media DRM for protecting content; and the Windows Media Software Development Kit for software developers. Windows Media Player, available in 26 languages, is the fastest-growing and now leading media player. More information about Windows Media can be found at

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.

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