IBC News: Companies Flocking Window Media 9

With several leading European content and distribution companies announcing new tools and services based around the Microsoft’s Windows Media 9 platform, support for the technology is growing fast.

BBC Technology, Capital Radio, NTL Broadcast, Quantel and many other companies announced that they were either moving to adopt WM9, or were embracing it further in new services.

Because of the breadth of support for the format in the industry, Microsoft has decided to open its specification for the codec by submitting it to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) C24 Technical Committee for consideration as an international standard.

Said Peter Symes, vice president of engineering at SMPTE. "The creation of an international standard based on this compression technology means there will be new choices for organizations that are strongly committed to the use of open standards and to those looking for the maximum level of interoperability in their products."

It will be interesting to see how the providers of the two other main media formats, Real and Apple, a going to react to this news.

Quantel will be using WM9 in its product lines to streamline production processes and improve quality. BBC Technology will be demonstrating its Colledia Control – a system designed to simplify the operation of broadcast equipment and provide workflow throughout the process.

Microsoft have made an improved range of tools available for WM9, such as the File Editor and Batch Encoder – these, coupled with the efficiency of the compression will no doubt have contributed to the uptake of the format.

With Windows Media 9, Microsoft are also finally providing the DRM capabilities they have been aiming towards for the last few years.

BBC Technology on Colledia

The Windows Media Encoder tools

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?