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Microsoft Movie Maker Released Today.

Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (ME) officially hit the market today, and the company is promoting the new system as its most user-friendly edition to date. The new operating system will be of particular interest to the streaming media industry due to the built in multimedia features. Microsoft Movie Maker turns each desktop into a home movie-editing studio, and the Microsoft Windows Media Player 7 is a standard feature.

"The Windows Movie Maker feature was created to satisfy the requests from customers to improve and simplify working with video images," said a Microsoft spokesperson. The Movie Maker software, however, is only available bundled with the new operating system and is not for sale as a stand-alone product.

Microsoft is embarking upon a tour of select shopping malls nationwide to bring the message of this release to consumers. The tour will begin on Sept. 14 in New York, Chicago and San Francisco and will subsequently visit 24 cities across the U.S.A. in the next two months. Several companies will accompany Microsoft on the marketing tour. Popcast, which developed the technology behind Microsoft Movie Maker, will provide the hosting services for the "Meet ME" tour. Mall walkers will be able to capture "15 minutes of fame" in the digital video area by starring in their own "Hollywood" video. The videos will then be posted to Popcast's network for the user to share with their friends and family.

Today Belkin Component, a manufacturer of Universal Serial Bus (USB) and FireWire connectivity products, also announced a vendor co-sponsorship agreement with Microsoft Corp. for the upcoming "Meet Me" Tour.

The market has recently been expanding the options for consumers to create and post personal videos. Lycos recently launched their video center, which is complete with downloadable software for editing home movies. However, according to Michael Silver, Research Director for the Gartner Group, "Microsoft has an edge because their software comes in the box. Anytime you get a piece of software for free you're more likely to try it."

A Gartner Group report also noted that the improved media support and Movie Maker software will help Microsoft compete more effectively against Macintosh.

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