RealNetworks, fresh from a name change and a licensing agreement with Microsoft, has announced a major new version of its streaming video and audio software.
RealSystem 5.0 introduces to the product streaming animation technology called RealFlash, a pay-per-view Internet commerce feature and a tool providing one-click publishing of streaming audio and video to any web server. The upgrade also offers improved audio and video quality.
RealNetworks, which recently changed its name from Progressive Networks to better associate the company with its products, is the leading supplier of streaming media solutions. In July Microsoft took a minority stake in the company and licensed its RealAudio and RealVideo products. But the deal only covered version 4.0 of the RealNetworks products and not the latest release. It is understood that Microsoft could negotiate a licence for version 5.0 but it is not clear whether it intends to exercise that option.
A Microsoft spokesman said:
"We can't comment on this while the DoJ (Department of Justice) is looking in to Microsoft's activities in the streaming software market."
The new pay-per-view and subscription-based programming features are targeted at firms looking to do business over the web. Sony Music Entertainment in the US plan to use these features for its pay-per-play on-line music jukebox, which will be available on its web site this autumn.
Fred Ehrlich, senior VP and general manager at Sony, said: "RealSystem 5.0 gives us the flexibility and speed we need for projects such as jukebox."
RealSystem 5.0 offers near-CD quality voice at 28.8Kbps. This level of quality was previously only available on ISDN connections. Full-screen streaming video is also now available at 100Kbps to 300Kbps. The beta version of RealSystem 5.0 is available for download at www.real.com.
REALSYSTEM 5.0: WHAT IT INCLUDES:
- streaming Macromedia Flash animation synchronised with RealAudio
- full-screen streaming video at 100Kbps to 300Kbps
- near-CD quality voice at 28.8Kbps
- RealPublisher tool
- commerce-enabled streaming media server for pay-for-view and subscription-based programming
- in-stream audio and video advertising insertion and rotation
- streaming audio and video optimised for 56Kbps dial-up modems
- basic streaming media server support for Windows 95.
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