Specifications for PC-based multimedia announced

Business Wire

November 27, 1990

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Broad-industry support for multimedia computing standards was announced at Microsoft's Multimedia Developers Conference in keynote speeches by Microsoft Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Gates, Tandy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John V. Roach and IBM Vice President of Multimedia Michael A. Braun.

The announcements covered three areas:

o Tandy Corp. was the first computer manufacturer to join Microsoft in defining and promulgating the base multimedia PC specification to the industry. Tandy, along with nine other major computer companies, announced plans to deliver in 1991 integrated Microsoft Windows-based multimedia personal computers and multimedia upgrade kits.

o Microsoft announced publication of a specification which was developed with IBM for common multimedia API and data formats. Microsoft also announced licensing agreements with IBM regarding multimedia extensions for Windows and for OS/2.

o Microsoft announced its Multimedia Development Kit and made beta copies available to more than 600 attendees of its developers conference. A number of independent software vendors are shipping development tools for the Windows multimedia environment.

In addition, Tandy has announced specially packaged systems for multimedia applications developers (see separate releases).

``Multimedia technology adds a tremendous richness to personal computing,'' said Gates. ``It will expand the scope and impact of personal computers in business, education and the home. The Windows-based multimedia platform is the focal point for an emerging industry that will make engaging, interactive multimedia applications affordable and accessible to all of these markets.''

Vendors Announce Intent to Deliver Multimedia PCs in 1991

Today Tandy, as well as AT&T, CompuAdd, Fujitsu, NEC Technologies, Olivetti, and Zenith Data Systems announced they would deliver PCs supporting the specification.

Collectively, these OEMs shipped more than 4 million personal computers in the last year, representing 25 percent of the worldwide PC market.

Three other companies, including Headland Technology, Media Vision, and Creative Labs, also announced today they will ship integrated software/hardware products that will allow end users to upgrade their existing 80286-based PCs to run Windows-based multimedia applications and titles (see related announcements by Tandy and other OEMs). IBM and Microsoft Announce Specifications and Licensing Agreement

Microsoft and IBM today published, in draft form, a set of platform-independent multimedia specifications. These specifications cover two areas: common data file formats (called RIFF) and applications programming interfaces for controlling media devices (MCI). The RIFF and MCI specifications are open to anyone for use on any operating system or computing platform.

Additionally, Microsoft and IBM announced licensing agreements for multimedia extensions for DOS/Windows and OS/2. IBM is licensing multimedia extensions for OS/2 version 1.x and 2.x to Microsoft, and Microsoft is licensing its multimedia extensions for Windows to IBM. Microsoft's multimedia extensions are compatible with the RIFF and MCI specifications announced today by IBM and Microsoft. Microsoft also announced that its multimedia extensions to Windows will support IBM multimedia hardware such as IBM's Audio Capture and Playback Adapter and M-Motion Video Adapter (see related announcement by IBM.)

What is Multimedia Computing?

Multimedia personal computing incorporates sound, animation and near photo-quality imaging with standard text and graphics. These new capabilities make personal computers much more engaging and accessible. For example, in a multimedia encyclopedia, an entry on Mozart could allow the user to hear a short selection of his music and to watch the score move forward as the music played. Similarly, an entry on Christopher Columbus could include an animated sequence showing the routes by which he explored the New World. Multimedia can also enhance business applications such as training or presentations.

Multimedia PCs will be equipped to run CD-ROM (compact disc read-only memory) titles and applications written specifically for the Windows multimedia environment. A single compact disc can hold about 650 million bytes of information -- the equivalent of hundreds of copies of the Bible.

In addition, because they integrate the Microsoft Windows graphical environment version 3.0, multimedia PCs will run the many thousands of available applications for the MS-DOS operating system and the Windows environment.

The Windows multimedia platform includes specifications for both systems software and hardware. The systems software is a complete multimedia Windows environment, which includes the popular graphical environment plus multimedia extensions to Windows.

The hardware specifications build on today's fast 80286 or 80386 personal computers by adding hardware components to support sound, enhanced video and CD-ROM capabilities.

The Windows Multimedia Environment

The Windows multimedia environment includes the Microsoft Windows graphical environment version 3.0 plus multimedia support through extensions to Windows version 3.0. These extensions include device drivers and libraries that serve as the interface between applications and multimedia hardware. Microsoft Windows version 3.0 has sold more than 1 million copies in its first six months on the market and has become the desktop graphical standard for MS-DOS-based PCs.

The Windows multimedia environment will be licensed to hardware OEMs who build multimedia PCs or upgrade kits. It will not replace the retail version of Microsoft Windows version 3.0.

Hardware Standards

Manufacturers who committed today to shipping multimedia PCs subscribe to the following minimum hardware configuration: a personal computer with a fast (10 Mhz or greater) 80286 or 80386 processor; 2 MB of RAM; standard or enhanced VGA graphics; a digital audio subsystem; a 30MB hard disk; a CD-ROM drive, and the Windows multimedia environment.

Upgrade kits will consist of at least an audio subsystem; a CD-ROM drive; and the Windows multimedia environment. The kits will be designed to upgrade personal computers meeting the processor, graphics and RAM configuration described above.

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) develops, markets and supports a wide range of software for business and professional use, including operating systems, network products, languages and applications as well as books, CD-ROM products and hardware for the microcomputer marketplace.


-- Microsoft, the Microsoft logo and MS-DOS are registered trademarks and Windows is a trademark of Microsoft Corp.

-- OS/2 is a registered trademark licensed to Microsoft Corp.

CONTACT: Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash. Brenda Hansen or Marty Taucher, 206/882-8080 or The Waggener Group, Portland, Ore. Marianne Allison or Pam Edstrom, 503/245-0905

Copyright (c) 1990, Business Wire