Microsoft Showcases Innovations That Make Windows Vista a Powerful Platform for the Creation and Delivery of Audio and Video Content

LAS VEGAS — April 24, 2006 — Today at the National Association of Broadcasters convention, NAB2006, Microsoft Corp. unveiled innovations in its next-generation operating system Windows Vista™ that will make it the ultimate creation, distribution and consumer experience PC platform for audio and video content. Microsoft® Windows Vista is now poised to be the platform of choice for the next generation of workflow and production tools for high-definition and high-fidelity digital media. Expanded Windows® Media Center features will enable a new level of extensibility for content owners and aggregators that want to deliver premium digital entertainment services with Windows Media Center.

“With Windows Vista, we went back to the drawing board to create a premier platform for audio and video,” said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “Whether you are a music producer, post-production house or television studio, you will find that Windows Vista is an incredibly powerful tool for the future of content creation, delivery and playback.”

Windows Audio and Video Excellence

Content such as high-definition video or multichannel audio is very complex, requiring the efficient utilization of appropriate operating system resources to deliver the best experience. The audio and video architecture in Windows Vista was built from the ground up with an emphasis on high performance, stability and fidelity, and will spur innovation for software vendors creating digital media applications and tools. Windows Vista includes a new multimedia API that provides application isolation, ensuring that content and plug-ins cannot be modified by other applications, incorporating reusable components (which reduces the need for custom filters), supporting low-latency audio processing and DirectX® Video Acceleration (DXVA) hardware acceleration, and delivering increased resilience to system stress. This leads to a better consumer experience by offering much-improved video scaling and color fidelity, as well as greater application functionality since the new API will reduce development time for software vendors.

Improvements include the following:

  • Glitch resilience. Professional content creators demand a platform they can trust to perform without error. Windows Vista includes the ability to raise the priority of audio and video processes, therefore delivering a platform that is far more glitch resilient. This enables Windows Vista to provide a seamless playback experience with the most demanding high-definition content.

  • High fidelity. Windows Vista will have 32-bit floating point by default in the core of the audio system, allow for much higher-quality digital signal processing and support for up to 144 dB signal-to-noise ratio with bit-for-bit sample level accuracy. Sound designers and producers will experience higher fidelity, even with lower-end consumer-grade audio hardware.

  • Device roles. The power and flexibility of today’s Windows-based PC allow it to be a tool for a variety of uses, including communication, productivity and home entertainment. A single PC may have several devices or peripherals connected to it to facilitate each of these scenarios. Windows Vista will ease the setup of these devices by providing device roles in three initial categories: general, music and movies, and communication. This will allow specific applications to output content through specific devices, for example, e-mail alerts through a headset or music playback through high-fidelity surround-sound speakers.

  • Per-application volume. In previous versions of Windows, volume was universal across all applications. Windows Vista will offer per-application volume control, so system sounds and other applications can be easily differentiated.

Windows Media Center for Windows Vista

With Windows Media Center, Microsoft provides a rich platform that allows third-party media and software companies to deliver on-demand video and audio content to the “digital home.” Today, more than 120 key media partners around the world offer such services through the Windows Media Center Online Spotlight portal. In Windows Media Center for Windows Vista, Microsoft is adding powerful new platform features that will allow content owners to create even richer, more-engaging, interactive TV services. The new technologies include the following:

  • Windows Media Center Presentation Layer. This allows developers to leverage the same rendering technologies that are in Windows Media Center and the Microsoft .NET Framework to create visually stunning “ten-foot” applications that are easier to build, manage and deploy.

  • Hosted WinFX® XAML Browser Applications (XBAP). These allow Media Center developers to leverage the power of the Microsoft WinFX platform and tools to create rich interactive services for the home.

At NAB2006, Microsoft is giving the first public demonstration of a Windows Media Center Presentation Layer experience for Windows Vista, created by Showtime Networks Inc. and designed and developed by the interactive agency Schematic to showcase the power of Windows Media Center for Windows Vista. The resulting dynamic, user-friendly prototype — of a Showtime interactive TV channel for its award-winning series “Weeds” — combines high-definition digital video content with interactive features such as cast interviews, episode guides and a direct connection to the Windows Media Center digital video recording feature. This demonstration will show how content owners can create next-generation interactive television experiences for Windows Media Center in Windows Vista, including high-definition video and on-demand content.

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 Vista, Windows, DirectX and WinFX 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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