Microsoft has leapfrogged Real Networks with the release of its latest streaming media technology that it claims will bring near-broadcast quality audio and video to your PC.
Microsoft is anxious to adopt technology that will turn the Internet into a mass-market medium capable of delivering video on demand and other TV-style services.
Until now the bandwidth to deliver true video on demand has only existed in closed networks such as hotel chains but Microsoft is confident its streaming technology will improve the delivery of information over the Internet and encourage companies to run online video advertisements.
Real Networks, which is working on its own second generation streaming technology, Real Player G2, does not believe Microsoft?s announcement will affect its launch, due in September.
?We don?t perceive it as a threat,? said a Real Networks representative. ?Microsoft?s technology is based on old Real Networks technology. G2, when it arrives, will take media streaming onto the next level.?
The imminent Microsoft product portfolio includes Windows Media Player - a free add-on to the Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT Workstation operating systems - that plays back most multimedia file types.
Microsoft also rolled out the latest edition of Windows NT Server Net Show Services, which it maintained will provide video quality around twice as good as its predecessor. The product will be free to NT Server licensees.
In addition it announced Net Show Theater Server, a standalone product running on Windows NT Server which will provide streaming multimedia to end users at bandwidths ranging from 2.4 Kbps to 500 Kbps. It is aimed at content providers who want high quality video delivery and will be generally available next month.
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