Microsoft has teamed up with Cirrus Logic to carve itself a future in the digital music download market.
Microsoft today confirmed that the Maverick line of Internet audio chips, developed by Cirrus Logic for use in portable music devices, will incorporate MSWindows Media Technologies, enabling manufacturers to offer Windows Media Audio support in their devices at no additional licensing cost.
Manufacturers using the Maverick chipset and Windows Media Technologies will be able to quickly and easily deliver new devices that offer CD quality audio at half the file size of competing formats - allowing consumers to store more music on their devices without sacrificing audio quality, claimed the software giant.
Microsoft and Cirrus are working on releasing the chips next month so that manufacturers can produce devices in time for the lucrative Christmas market.
The devices will feature Windows Media Technologies' digital rights management, which allows content providers to retain control over their valuable intellectual property.
"Today’s announcement is a shot that will be heard around the world for consumers and portable device manufacturers," said Anthony Bay, general manager of Microsoft’s streaming media division.
"By being the first to build-in on their chip our CD-Quality Windows Media Audio format and Digital Rights Management solution, and top it off with a no-cost license for the OEM, Cirrus Logic is making it easier for device manufacturers to use our superior audio format than any other audio format on the market today, including MP3,” he added.
Microsoft launched its MS Audio software in April which competes head to head with Realnetworks. MP3, however, is still leading in the digital download stakes.
Sony last week said that it is going to launch a digital Walkman that plays files in MP3 format.
Diamond Multimedia Systems, which introduced the first portable audio player to use MP3 format, is thought to have sold more than 250,000 units.
The downloadable music market is estimated to be worth around $1.1 billion by 2003.
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