Microsoft, Intel and Cisco have teamed up to develop and deploy networked multimedia applications.
The combination of one of the IT industry?s most powerful triumvirates may make the design and implementation of multimedia systems easier and more cost effective in a market where standards do exist, but there remains a dearth of applications.
The so-called Networked Multimedia Connection (NMC) - a plan for developing tools, developer training programmes, laboratory-based networked testing and support - should speed up development processes within a defined framework of standards. To date, the NMC is focusing on only a few standards, mainly the IP Multicast; an unnamed conservation mechanism; the ITU H.323 standard; and the Resource Reservation Protocol.
This three-way arrangement is viewed in different ways by analysts. One interpretation is that collaboration across their different IT sectors is a good thing for users. It simplifies desktop connectivity to Lans, Wans and the Internet. Undoubtedly, the conservation and allocation of bandwidth will be popular, mainly because bandwidth consumption is a major obstacle to exploiting multimedia.
Craig Kinnie, vice president and general manager of Intel's Internet and communications group, commented: ?For the last 18 months, Intel has been working... to bring networked multimedia applications to market. The interest and enthusiasm tell us the time is right to build upon the rich multimedia capabilities of the connected PC."
Intel and Microsoft have had a long and lucrative relationship, ramping up desktop power, functions and cost. Cisco is the odd man out here, and the reasons for its participation are less clear. Analysts are asking whether it wants a piece of the Wintel cake, rich pickings that derive from short PC lifecycles, often with 18-month upgrade paths? Or attracted by faster networking upgrades that could be a very profitable market.
Cisco sees it differently, but doesn?t deny the alliance is a moneymaking opportunity. ?This signals that the networked computing age will be more about industry cooperation than industry fragmentation,? said Don Listwin, senior vice president of market development for Cisco Systems. He added: ?We're pleased to work with leaders in other parts of the industry to make business better and life simpler for end users."
As for Microsoft: ?We believe that Cisco, Intel and Microsoft together can help make multimedia, over Intranets and the Internet, a business-critical technology in 1997,? commented David Cole, Microsoft vice president, Internet client and collaboration division.
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