Microsoft Announces Leading Broadcast Companies to Deploy Products and Services Based on Windows Media 9 Series

LAS VEGAS, April 19, 2004 — Today at NAB2004, Microsoft Corp. announced that leading broadcast companies are developing or deploying tools and services that support Microsoft® Windows Media®
9 Series. Among the companies adopting Windows Media 9 Series for its high quality and compression efficiency are Rainbow DBS, the satellite services division of Cablevision Systems Corp.; Akimbo Systems; Shanghai Broadcasting Lab; and U.S. Digital Television Inc. (USDTV).

Rainbow DBS’s satellite service, VOOM, is the first television service to offer a comprehensive array of high-definition (HD) programming to customers throughout the continental United States. VOOM will use Windows Media 9 Series as one of the compression technologies to expand its available satellite capacity for HD offerings from more than 30 to more than 60 channels. VOOM plans to roll out advanced codecs beginning with standard definition (SD) later this year and HD next year.

“We are extremely impressed by the compression capabilities of Windows Media 9 Series,” said Bill Casamo, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Rainbow DBS. “With over 30 HD channels, VOOM is already delivering far more HD programming than any other cable or satellite provider. Utilizing these codecs, among others, within our network will allow VOOM customers to experience even more high-quality HD programming, as well as SD programming, and will support the growth and addition of new services over the next few years.”

Content Provider Adoption of Windows Media 9 Series to Expand Reach

The compression efficiencies of Windows Media 9 Series, coupled with its capability to scale beyond SD to HD video, make it a compelling choice for the distribution of broadcast content. In addition to Rainbow DBS’s VOOM service, companies announcing support for Windows Media 9 Series in content delivery include the following:

  • Akimbo Systems announced it will launch an Internet video-on-demand service for television in June using Windows Media Video 9 Series and Windows Media DRM to ensure that high-quality video can be delivered quickly, efficiently and securely over the Internet to the Akimbo Player for viewing.

  • U.S. Digital Television , a leading digital terrestrial “over-the-air” television service provider, today announced that its “Best-of-TV” lineup of the nation’s most popular cable channels will deliver 12 channels in SD using Windows Media 9 Series. USDTV’s television lineup includes Disney Channel and Toon Disney, ESPN, ESPN2, Discovery Channel and TLC, Food Network and Home & Garden Television, Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network, and FOX News Channel. STARZ! will be available to subscribers as a premium channel for an additional fee. USDTV has announced plans to roll out this service in 30 of the top 50 markets by the end of the year.

  • Vistacast and its partner , WBT Systems’ TopClass Learning Management System (TopClass LMS), announced a new service that encodes media-rich curricula in Windows Media 9 Series, and then datacasts it to distance-learning students equipped with a PC, USB receiver box, regular TV antenna and Vistacast software. The service is transforming the distance-learning experience.

Windows Media 9 Series Enables New Distribution Scenarios

Leading broadcast service and product providers are using the compression efficiencies of Windows Media 9 Series to distribute content across standards-based broadcast networks. The newest deployments and showcases announced today at NAB2004 are the following:

  • Harmonic Inc , a global leader in high-performance digital video solutions for broadcasters and other service providers, is demonstrating the recently introduced DiviCom MV 100 encoding platform running the Windows Media Video 9 Advanced Profile (4:2:0 8-bit). The MV 100 will be producing interlaced standard definition digital video for an IPTV application.

  • Pathfire Inc. , the leading supplier of digital content distribution and management solutions, announced that it is adopting Windows Media 9 Series for use in its new Point-to-Point Newsgathering system. Windows Media 9 Series was selected for its ability to greatly reduce bandwidth and storage requirements while maintaining high-quality video. Pathfire expects broad adoption of the Newsgathering system by networks and broadcasters that want to economically and efficiently acquire live and nonlive video in breaking news situations. More information is available at .

  • Shanghai Broadcasting Lab and New Auto Group, China (NAT) announced plans to develop a product line based on Windows Media 9 Series that will provide a complete television news production and broadcasting solution including newsgathering, encoding, transmission, playback, nonlinear editing, broadcasting and content management.

  • Stradis Inc. , a leading provider of hardware decoders for the broadcasting and entertainment industries, announced that it is adopting Windows Media 9 Series and will support it on all its future video decoding and encoding products.

  • TANDBERG Television will demonstrate the EN5920 real-time hardware encoder for Windows Media 9 Series. The demonstration will use the Windows Media Video 9 Advanced Profile. The TANDBERG EN5920 is the only dedicated hardware encoding platform for Windows Media 9 Series that is currently shipping, and is already in trials with telephone companies in North America and Europe, including Swisscom/Bluewin, which will commence a commercial trial this summer.

Progress Regarding SMPTE VC-9 Standardization

Progress has been made in other areas as well. Microsoft’s submission of the compression technology used in the Windows Media Video 9 codec (VC-9) to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) C24 Technical Committee was recently elevated to Committee Draft status.

“The elevation of VC-9 to Committee Draft status represents consensus that the basic structure of the document is correct and that we can now start on the detailed work,” said Peter Symes, vice president of engineering at SMPTE.

“We continue to see strong adoption of Windows Media 9 Series due to its state-of-the-art quality and compression efficiencies that enable broadcasters to deliver innovative new services over their networks,” said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “We are also pleased that the SMPTE VC-9 standardization process has moved to the next stage. The creation of this new standard will further accelerate the availability of new content and services for consumers and help companies to easily and independently develop their own interoperable products.”

Finally at NAB2004, Microsoft announced that it has worked with Automatic Duck Inc. on a codec update to the Advanced Authoring Format Software Development Kit (AAF SDK), which provides Windows Media 9 Series audio and video support in AAF. Meanwhile, in cooperation with MOG Solutions, Microsoft announced a codec update that provides Windows Media 9 Series support for MOG Solution’s Material Exchange Format (MXF) SDK. These developments further extend the value and interoperability of the Windows Media platform for the professional media production community. More information can be found 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 Server (TM) 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 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 “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Microsoft, Windows Media and Windows Server 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.

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