Microsoft released the beta version of NetShow 2.0 (see net.news, PC Week 18 March) and Macromedia released Director 6.0 which uses its own streaming technology, Streaming Shockwave, to deliver shockwave files as you load the page. Of course, Progressive Networks is still plugging away with the Real Video technology which, so far, has controlled the streaming multimedia market.
But isn't all this video stuff aimed at the consumer market where clips of the latest Mel Gibson movie are all the rage? Well yes, but there are some serious applications for this technology too, particularly as more and more service providers move to a TV channel-type delivery system.
In this month's Time magazine there is an article about Sony which quotes Nobuyuki Idei, the company's chairman, saying he doesn't believe the PC is ready to deliver all our media needs - yet. Idei reckons we'll have to wait at least five years before the PC becomes the electronic consumer device. But are we really that far away? Streaming multimedia is now a very serious technology and makes things like Quick Time and Video for Windows look very immature.
Streaming allows the early parts of the video to be played while the later bits are loaded, giving the illusion that the whole video is already on disk. This allows news organisations, for example, to send out news bulletins live (well, almost) direct from the editoring suite.
The good news here is that streaming video was designed for the consumer, and that puts you lot in a very good situation. If it looks good on a 28.8 modem, it will look a great deal better on a T1!
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