WebTV users will not be able to access audio content on the Internet created using Real Networks' technology.
Since WebTV is owned by Microsoft, industry watchers are putting the hole down to Real Networks' feud with the Redmond giant.
WebTV has said that it will not support the three latest versions of Real Networks? Real Audio. Prior to its acquisition by Microsoft in 1997, WebTV supported each of the Real Audio versions.
Analysts were surprised by the latest move, saying consumers want support for a format for streaming audio and video, and Real Audio is easily the leading player.
Real Audio allows Web developers to include technology links in their sites that will enable consumers to get live audio, and eventually video feeds, on the Internet.
Real Networks maintains that WebTV users will not be able to access audio or video from sites developed using the later versions of its technology.
WebTV claims, however, that it still has a strong relationship with Real Networks and denies that its decisions are being influenced by Microsoft.
?We are still looking at standards and want to be as compatible with as many as possible,? commented a spokesperson for WebTV, who claims the company is carrying out extensive testing with different technologies because people expect greater reliability from their TV than their PC.
Despite the nice talk, Web TV does seem to have put its relationship with Real Networks - like its Java support plans - on ice.
Real Networks claims that Real Audio has 85 to 90 per cent market share. The majority of developers are working with the latest Real Audio 5.0 or G2 players. At current state of play WebTV users cannot access any of that audio content.
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