RealTime IT News

Microsoft Upgrades Multimedia Platform

Enter another player into the online music controversy: Microsoft. The company Wednesday released the highly anticipated beta version of Microsoft Windows Media Technologies 4.0, its multimedia tool.

Version 4.0 features Microsoft's alternative to the popular yet controversial MP3 platform, dubbed MS Audio. With it, users can download and play near-CD quality music on their computers reportedly faster than MP3 compressed files.

Microsoft also said its player comes with a rights-management system to allow copyright owners to build, sell and distribute music and videos. The music industry is attempting to block these kinds of media players because in some cases they facilitate pirated music.

Video enhancements to the player include updated video compression technology, designed to provide improved video quality over modem links and near-broadcast-quality video over ADSL and cable modem connections.

For content providers, the upgraded media player features pay-per-view options, updated encoding technology and a software developers kit, enabling developers to easily integrate "MSAudio" and Windows Media Rights Manager functionality into their existing applications.

The beta version of Windows Media Player is available via download at the Microsoft Web site.

The compressed music sector of the Internet has been abuzz as of late. Real Networks and IBM Monday announced they will be working developing a platform to compete with MP3, and in an additional move, Real Networks Tuesday acquired Xing Technology Corp., one of the first companies to develop MP3 software.