Microsoft’s Universal Audio Architecture Initiative Gains Momentum

REDMOND, Wash., April 29, 2004 —
Microsoft Corp. today announced broad support for the Universal Audio Architecture (UAA) initiative, which will help to ensure an improved audio experience and improved audio device driver support for users of Windows® . Microsoft also announced the availability of the first version of the Microsoft®
High Definition Audio Class Driver, based on the High Definition (HD) Audio specification developed by Intel Corporation. Through the UAA initiative, Microsoft also is delivering a set of Windows audio class drivers based on other key audio technologies, including USB Audio and 1394 Audio.

Universal Audio Architecture is a Microsoft-led initiative to provide a transparent “it just works” consumer experience and to improve the quality of audio on Windows-based PCs. Announced first at WinHEC 2002, the UAA initiative was established by Microsoft not only to enhance consumer audio experiences, but also to lower support costs, improve the functionality and quality of PC audio for current and future operating systems, and save time and resources for manufacturers. The Microsoft UAA HD Audio Class Driver 1.0 is available as an out-of-band release for Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server (TM) 2003. For future operating system releases, Microsoft intends to ship the UAA class drivers as part of the operating system. The Microsoft UAA initiative proposes UAA class driver compliance from audio solutions on all PCs running Windows.

“As high-quality, reliable and feature-rich audio becomes increasingly important to PC owners and manufacturers, an audio specification is needed that will reduce the complications of compatibility, improve functionality and decrease high manufacturing costs,” said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “Universal Audio Architecture and High Definition Audio solve these problems. Together with Intel and a growing list of industry partner companies, we’re taking steps toward guaranteed device support, glitch-free audio and the best sound quality available.”

Microsoft’s collaboration around UAA with Intel and others will provide consumers with consistent audio functionality and enable a number of key benefits, including the following:

  • Simpler installation of audio peripherals

  • Higher performance: Minimum CPU time consumed when streaming, while taking advantage of increased bandwidth

  • Glitch-free audio

  • Ability to update the operating system while guaranteeing high-quality audio performance

  • More stable and secure audio for server applications

  • Fewer drivers and upgrades required, and less driver code to be developed, tested and supported

  • Reduction in support calls and returns

“The PC is a versatile platform for the delivery of digital media, and consumers are increasingly looking to the PC to power their home-theater-quality experiences,” said Thomas Loza, technology initiatives manager at Intel. “The availability of a Microsoft High Definition Audio Class Driver is a significant step forward in delivering on the audio performance expectations for today’s platforms.”

Manufacturers today are frequently moving toward system-integrated audio instead of stand-alone PCI audio chips, which are usually on add-in cards. This system integration helps lower costs and improve convenience. Before the emergence of Intel’s High Definition Audio specification, however, each vendor had to create a separate driver to work with digital audio controllers, making development cumbersome and complicated. The High Definition Audio specification provides a common audio host controller interface that allows the Microsoft UAA HD Audio Class Driver to provide audio support and extend the capabilities of PC audio for all users of Windows.

Support for UAA Initiative

Support for UAA-supported technologies has grown significantly in the last year and is backed by leading chipset and codec manufacturing, PC manufacturers, and audio modem vendors such as these: Agere Systems Inc., Analog Devices Inc., ATI Technologies Inc., C-Media Electronics Inc., Conexant Systems Inc., First International Computer Inc., Foxconn Electronics Inc., Fujitsu, Intel, Motorola Inc., Nvidia Corp., Realtek Semiconductor Corp., SigmaTel Inc., Silicon Integrated Systems Corp., Silicon Laboratories Inc., Smart Link Ltd., ULi Electronics Inc. and VIA Technologies Inc. These companies support the primary goal of the UAA initiative, bringing a streamlined and transparent high-quality audio experience to consumers.

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.

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