Final Release of Windows Media 9 Series Starts Next Wave of Digital Media

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 7, 2003 — Today Microsoft Corp. announced the immediate availability of Windows Media®
9 Series, the next-generation digital media platform that offers benefits for hardware and software vendors, the media and entertainment industry, consumers in the home, and organizations looking to communicate and train more effectively.

Microsoft also announced a new licensing program for Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series that enables device manufacturers and software developers to build high-quality digital audio and video features into a broader range of their products — with longer terms and lower prices than those of other technologies such as MPEG-4 and MPEG-2.

Windows Media has been widely adopted by device manufacturers, software vendors and content providers, with more than 170 devices, hundreds of applications, and hundreds of thousands of popular songs and movies currently available supporting it. Today’s release of Windows Media 9 Series and the new licensing program delivers on Microsoft’s long-standing vision of enabling digital media everywhere. With innovations such as high-definition video at up to six times the resolution of DVD, the first 5.1-channel surround sound streaming audio, and a faster, more-televisionlike experience with media on the Web, Windows Media 9 Series provides dramatically improved media playback for all users and offers the most comprehensive platform features for hardware and software manufacturers, enabling them to build their own unique products and services.

“The unmatched audio and video quality of Windows Media 9 Series is now available under the most flexible and attractive license terms in the industry,”
said Will Poole, corporate vice president of the Windows New Media Platforms Division at Microsoft.
“This combination of best-in-class technology and compelling licensing means the entire digital media ecosystem — from lens to screen — can grow and thrive more easily and cost effectively.”

New Windows Media Licensing: Unleashing the Full Potential of Digital Media

The new licensing terms available today cover the following key components of the Windows Media Format:

  • Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series codecs , which provide state-of-the-art audio- and video-compression technologies for digital media content

  • Windows Media file container (also known as the Advanced Systems Format, or ASF), which enables digital content to be both stored and delivered over a wide variety of networks

  • Windows Media streaming protocols , which enable playback of streamed content

The terms enable licensees to develop implementations of Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series codecs in a wide range of environments, including hardware devices and non-Windows®
-based computers, and to include the Windows Media codecs in their products in any file container and at costs significantly lower than for other technologies, such as MPEG-4 and MPEG-2. For example, unit pricing for Windows Media Video 9 (WMV 9) on devices and non-Windows platforms is 10 cents per decoder, 20 cents per encoder and 25 cents for both encoder/decoder. By comparison, MPEG-4 video is more expensive, with a unit price for decoder, encoder and encoder/decoder licensing of 25 cents, 25 cents and 50 cents, respectively. There is also a significant content use fee for MPEG-4, while there are no content use fees for the Windows Media Audio and Video codecs.

The duration of the licenses has been extended so they provide an optimal match for the planning, design, release and support cycles of manufacturers in the consumer electronics industry. Microsoft also committed to maintain backward compatibility to help ensure that content created using future versions of the audio and video codecs will play back in earlier generations of devices, yet still deliver the additional quality improvements offered by the new codecs.

By enabling the use of Windows Media codecs independently of ASF, software vendors that support encoding, editing or playing back content in containers such as AVI or MPEG can quickly and easily include support for the superior compression of Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series in their applications.

In addition, software vendors that develop applications on non-Windows-based platforms now have the option of licensing the Windows Media codecs to build high-quality digital media encoding and playback support into their products. This will allow them to extend the reach of their Windows Media-based solutions and increase the interoperability of their products.

For several years Microsoft has led the industry in offering proven, flexible digital rights management technology to enable new business models and a fair exchange of value between consumers and content owners. Microsoft is also offering DRM licensing on similar terms to the new Windows Media licensing program, either for use in conjunction with the Windows Media Format components or independently, for consumer electronic devices.

Overall, the new licensing program makes it easier for hardware and software developers alike to take advantage of the high quality of the Windows Media 9 Series in their own products.

The Technology 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 as well as 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 , the new streaming server in Windows .NET Server 2003

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

  • The 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:

  • A dramatically improved 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. Windows Media Player 9 Series provides a wealth of new features and improvements to make it faster, easier and more flexible to use, including 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 provides 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, home–theater like experiences. For dial-up users, the new Windows Media Voice codec improves streaming radio, and Video Smoothing improves the playback quality of low-bit-rate video.

  • The most comprehensive platform for businesses and developers. Windows Media Services 9 Series in Windows .NET Server 2003 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. Software developers have unprecedented access to the player, server, encoder, and audio and video codecs, with extensive plug-in models and broad programming language support.

The Industry Rallies Around Windows Media 9 Series

In a groundswell of support for the new platform, more than 70 companies announced they are using Windows Media 9 Series in their own products and services, including the following:

  • Nearly 30 software companies and service providers , including Accordent Technologies Inc., Anark Corp., Anystream, Approach Inc., Cakewalk, Drastic Technologies Ltd., Eloquent Inc., Emblaze Systems Ltd, Enscaler Inc., Infogate Online Ltd., Inscriber, InterVideo, HP, PacketVideo, Quilogy Inc., Roxio Inc., Sample Digital Inc., Serious Magic, SnapStream Media Inc., Inc., Sonic Foundry Inc., Sonic Solutions, SRS Labs Inc., Steinberg Media Technologies, Streamcheck, Stellar One, RCS and VitalStream Inc.

  • More than 10 hardware companies , including Accom Inc., ATI Technologies Inc., Creative Labs, Echo Digital Audio, M-Audio (formerly Midiman), NVIDIA, Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc., SONICblue, VIA Technologies Inc., ViewCast and Winnov L.P.

  • Leading DVD chip manufacturers , including Cirrus Logic, ESS Technology Inc., LSI Logic Corp., STMicroelectronics Inc. and Zoran Corp.

  • Six Windows Media 9 Series certified hosting providers , including Akamai Technologies Inc., Limelight Networks Inc., Loudeye Corp., Nine Systems Corp. (formerly Streaming Media Corp.), Speedera Networks and SyncCast LLC

  • Top subscription services around the world , including CinemaNow, Moviesystem, Full Audio and pressplay

  • Leading content providers , including Clear Channel Radio, ESPN, Music Choice,, NPR,
    “Radio Expeditions,”
    a co-production of NPR and the National Geographic Society, Singingfish Inc., and The Feedroom Inc.

  • Film industry companies and solution providers , including Digital Cinema Solutions and DuArt Digital Film Labs

  • Leading set-top-box chip makers , including Equator Technologies Inc., Sigma Designs, and Texas Instruments

  • Leading European broadcast technology companies , including DMDsecure, Optibase and TANDBERG Television


The final versions of Windows Media Player 9 Series, Windows Media Encoder 9 Series and Windows Media 9 Series SDK are available for public download at noon today from

The final version of Windows Media Services 9 Series will be available with the upcoming release of Windows .NET Server 2003. Release Candidate 2 of Windows .NET Server is available today at

To enhance the transparency of the new licensing program, Microsoft has implemented improved Web-based licensing for Windows Media, which any interested party can view at noon today 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 Windows Media 9 Series platform includes Windows Media Player 9 Series; Windows Media Services 9 Series, the powerful streaming server feature in Windows .NET Server 2003 for distributing content; Windows Media Encoder 9 Series for content creation; Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series for the best-quality audio and video; Windows Media Digital Rights Management to help protect content; and the Windows Media Software Development Kit for use by software developers to develop digital media products and services. Windows Media Player, available in 26 languages, is now the leading 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. 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 h

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