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Microsoft Announces New Windows Media 9 Supporters

Chiba, Japan – Microsoft used the CEATEC Japan show to announce a broad list of chip and consumer electronics manufacturers that will add support for its Windows Media 9 Series in new digital products.

Microsoft said it now expects more than 400 devices — double what it announced at CES last January — would soon add Windows Media support. These devices range from DVD and CD players to car stereos, portable audio devices and set-top boxes.

‘Windows Media is emerging as one of the critical links between devices and a Windows-based PC,’ said Amir Majidimehr, general manager of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. ‘By offering superior quality and the best compression rates, Windows Media enables delivery of digital media over practically any network, to many types of devices, and at a variety of bit rates.’

At CEATEC, Analog Devices demonstrated the first Windows Media Audio 9 Professional decoder chip – SHARC Melody Ultra – in Pioneer Electronics’ VSA-AX10N-i AV amplifier.

Then, Hitachi announced its BroadGear Digital Media Processor now supports Windows Media Video 9 encoding and decoding for implementation in digital television products including, set-top boxes and video-editing equipment, among other categories.

Others announcing support for Windows Media 9 at CEATEC included:

  • NEC Corp. demonstrated its Express 5800/Internet Streaming Server DS, the applicant server for Windows Media Services 9 Series, and NEC.
  • Technica unveiled an Internet Protocol television (IPTV) set-top box built on Windows CE .NET 4.2 with Windows Media Video 9 playback at D1 quality (1.5 Mbps).
  • Matsushita Electric Industrial Co (Panasonic) unveiled a portable CD player with Windows Media Audio 9 playback, that it called ‘the first portable device with support for HighMAT technology,’ and a reference build of the Broadnow Mini, a broadband television tuner with support for Windows Media Video 9.
  • Sanyo demonstrated a hard disc drive-based portable A/V media player/recorder built on the Windows CE .NET 4.2 platform. It includes a 20GB hard disk drive, and will support Windows Media Audio and Windows Media Video 9 playback as well as the transfer of media from a PC.

Microsoft said it would provide ‘flexible and affordable licensing terms’ to manufacturers and will seek cooperation within the consumer electronics industry and standards bodies ‘to ensure harmony between the PC and consumer electronic devices’ to permit the seamless flow of media.

Meanwhile, Microsoft said it continues to gain supporters for the HighMAT standard it co-developed with Panasonic. HighMAT is a standardized system for arranging digital media on CDs and DVDs to enable ‘easy-to- navigate and consistent playback’ of media files using DVD players, CD players or car stereos. To date, 15 companies from content creation software publishers to consumer device manufacturers have announced support for the format.

Microsoft said HighMAT is supported in Windows XP and in 16 models of home entertainment devices from Panasonic including DVD/CD players, DVD/CD changers, DVD home theater systems and portable DVD players.

The Windows Media 9 Series platform includes Windows Media Player 9 Series; Windows Media Services 9 Series, a streaming server feature in Windows Server 2003 for distributing content; Windows Media Encoder 9 Series for content creation; Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series for the high-quality audio and video; Windows Media Digital Rights Management to protect content; and the Windows Media Software Development Kit for software developers to develop digital media products and services.