LAS VEGAS — April 17, 2005 — Today at the National Association of Broadcasters convention, NAB2005, Microsoft Corp. announced broad industry support for Windows Media® Video 9 (Microsoft’s implementation of VC-1, the proposed SMPTE standard) for the creation, distribution and playback of high-definition (HD) content, including the first major studio commitment to deliver HD content to consumers via optical media. Warner Bros. Studios is announcing its plans to offer a broad range of next-generation HD-DVD discs using Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) representing the first major push to deliver high-definition content to consumers on optical media in the U.S.
Also announced at NAB2005 are professional tools and consumer electronics for the delivery of HD experiences over digital broadcast, Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) and satellite networks. GridIron Software Inc., Inlet Technologies, TANDBERG Television and Tarari Inc. are announcing accelerated and real-time HD Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) encoding tools, and Thomson is unveiling a new Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1)-capable set-top-box for IPTV delivery. Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) is being chosen to power a breadth of HD experiences because it offers state-of-the-art HD quality at data rates substantially lower than MPEG-2 and can be delivered over the air from digital TV stations or to set-top boxes, televisions, PCs or other devices.
“We are on the verge of a massive rollout of high-definition content to consumers, and the industry is turning to Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) to power those experiences,” said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of Windows Digital Media at Microsoft. “From every side — creation, distribution and playback — support for Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) is creating a definitive infrastructure for delivering HD products and services.”
VC-1 Progressing Toward Standardization
VC-1 recently reached the critical step of Final Committee Draft (FCD) status with SMPTE’s C24 Technology Committee, in which it is officially referenced as SMPTE standard 421M. In the future, content created in VC-1 will be compatible with the Windows Media Video 9-based PC, consumer electronic device and TV experiences available today. VC-1 is under consideration by a number of other standards and industry organizations, and completion of the work with SMPTE will allow interested parties to make a simple reference to the SMPTE standard in order to standardize it within their group.
Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) Used to Deliver HD by DVD and the Internet, and to Set-Top Boxes
Leading content companies, solutions providers and consumer electronics manufacturers are adopting Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) to drive the widespread delivery of high-definition experiences to consumers. VC-1 has been accepted by both of the next-generation DVD committees, HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Warner Bros. is the first major studio to commit to broad delivery of HD content via HD-DVD; it plans to deliver next-generation HD-DVD discs in the fourth quarter of 2005.
Additional technologies announced at NAB2005 that are used for the delivery and playback of HD content include these:
thePlatform will showcase its Media Publishing System (MPS) Download Media Manager, a “white-label” client-side download manager, enabling content owners and service providers to build their own branded, high-definition Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) subscription video services using Windows Media Digital Rights Management 10.
Thomson will unveil the RCA IP1100 Platform High Definition Networked Entertainment Set-Top Box supporting Advanced Compression formats including Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) for content delivered over IPTV networks.
Microsoft announced the Windows Media Professional Exhibitor, a powerful monitoring tool for the playback of Windows Media content that allows all transport and playlist controls to appear on a second monitor, enabling superior playback performance for HD-resolution content.
ROOT6 Technology will show the first-ever implementation of full-aperture 2K (2048×1556) resolution Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) with support for encoding directly from Cineon/DPX files and image sequences.
Real-Time Software and Hardware-Based Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) Encoding
Producers of professional encoding tools are delivering solutions that can do real-time, high-definition Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) encoding for Digital Dailies or final delivery of content over digital broadcast, IPTV and satellite networks. Companies demonstrating real-time and accelerated Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) encoding at up to 1080p resolution at NAB2005 include these:
GridIron Software will debut its X-Factor for Windows Media Encoder software solution that significantly speeds the creation of high-definition Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) content using the Microsoft Windows Media Encoder and distributed computing.
Inlet Technologies will introduce the newest version of its Fathom real-time HD-SDI encoder with the industry’s first scene-by-scene re-encoding capability for VC-1.
TANDBERG Television will demonstrate its market-ready EN5980 HD real-time encoder for Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) as part of complete IPTV delivery systems. The TANDBERG encoders are capable of powering traditional broadcast, IPTV and satellite distribution, and have already been chosen by a number of telephone companies for the trial and commercial roll-out of Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) IPTV services.
Tarari Inc. will announce its Encoder Accelerator for Windows Media, a PCI-bus card that installs in any Microsoft® Windows® XP- or Microsoft Windows Server (TM) 2003-powered server or workstation to enable accelerated encoding of high-definition 720p and 1080p Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1) content.
Working With Industry Leaders to Accelerate HD Awareness and Adoption
Microsoft is working with established industry leaders to further awareness of HD technologies in the market and make them more affordable and accessible to a broader audience, thereby fueling adoption. Microsoft is announcing with THX Ltd. and AMD the launch of the THX Best Practices Laboratory for Windows Media, a unique laboratory, post-production and research facility providing the entertainment community with information and hands-on demonstrations of advanced digital content creation workflow and the creation and distribution products that support Windows Media (VC-1). In addition, Microsoft will join Adobe, Dell, HP and Intel Corporation to develop specifications for certified Windows-based HD creation solutions, making HD technology more affordable and accessible to a broader audience. Through a joint “OpenHD” certification process, these companies will help ensure compatibility between hardware and software components to simplify the purchasing process and give customers the confidence of knowing they are buying a validated turnkey system.
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