Microsoft Releases Windows Media Updates

Microsoft unveiled updates for its Windows Media Player, Windows Media Encoder and Windows Media Software Development Kit (SDK) on Wednesday. The update includes the latest codec, Windows Media Audio and Video 8, which was first released in March.

"Today consumers and developers alike can now enjoy the full benefits of our breakthrough Windows Media Audio and Video 8 technology," said Dave Fester, general manager of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. "These updates demonstrate our continued commitment to offer our customers the best software to create their personal digital music collections, distribute live and on-demand video over the Internet, or to help develop their own custom digital media solutions and software."

Along with the release of the Windows Media 7.1 SDK, software vendors announced plans to support the codec. New companies announcing support are Anystream, Media 100, Pinnacle Systems, Sonic Foundry, Syntrillium Software and ViewCast. Other companies that previously announced support are Accom, Avid Technology, Chyron, The Grass Valley Group and Optibase.

Updates in Windows Media Player 7.1 include CD ripping using Windows Media Audio 8 and a transcode feature, which lets users of portable audio devices store more music using Windows Media Audio. Windows Media Player 7.1 will also feature an "Enterprise Deployment Pack," to let network administrators better deploy and manage player settings on desktops across a corporation. The enterprise pack will be available in mid-summer, says Microsoft.

The new Windows Media Encoder 7.1 now includes support for live and prerecorded audio and video for the version 8 codec. It includes two-pass encoding support for higher quality files, as well as Microsoft's VBR (variable bit rate) technology.

Microsoft says that more than 190 companies have already developed software with its SDK. Updates to the SD include a new component to make it easier to read, write and transfer files for streaming or downloaded delivery.Microsoft said all updates are now available from its site (www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia).

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