At Internet World in Los Angeles a fortnight ago VDO introduced its new Net Video technology and MSNBC showed off its Business Video. Both are technically compatibile with dial-up Net users, and when they are linked up to broadband pipes, they fly. And there is so much bandwidth out there already: Ethernet will easily deliver MPEG video across an internal intranet right now and the technology is getting so smart that it can scale itself to fit any pipe.
This scaleable technology comes from VDOnet and literally searches the bandwidth in a pipe to find out how much room it has, then decides on how well it should perform. For the consumer with a 28.8 modem that means a bit of snow here and there, but for the user with a T1 - bigger is definitely better.
So impressive was the Los Angeles demo that America Online promised to use the VDO technology in forthcoming releases of its software. If you are an AOL subscriber, expect to see lots of news and interviews over the next six to eight months.
But the real winner here will inevitably be Microsoft. The arrival of IE4.0 this summer will give users their first taste of the Active Desktop which was built for streaming multimedia.
Picture the scene: you're sitting at your desk typing on your wordprocessor when the screen flashes and Trevor McDonald appears with a news flash on the latest election news. But it won't just be pictures of a McDonald or a Paxman - there will be music and voices and all the other bits that make TV what it is. What's more, organisations like NBC (MSNBC) have promised it will archive the items shown on its network so you can get any news item you want, anywhere, anytime.
Idei may be Sony's visionary, but if he thinks companies such as Microsoft and VDO are going to wait five years before a feasible alternative to the TV is produced ... he doesn't know Bill Gates.
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