Microsoft Announces Multimedia File Format Strategy for Windows
New Strategy Solves Needs for Media Streaming, Media Authoring
Redmond, Wash. - April 3, 1998 - Microsoft Corp. today announced a new multimedia file format strategy for the Microsoft® Windows® operating system that addresses the key challenges of streaming media distribution and professional media authoring.
The new strategy will integrate support into Windows for two recently developed formats, the Advanced Streaming Format (ASF) and the Advanced Authoring Format (AAF). ASF is an open, industry-developed format specifically tuned for streaming media distribution. AAF, announced today, is an open, industry-developed format that enables the exchange of rich media among digital production tools and content creation applications. ASF and AAF will become the new default multimedia file formats for Windows, succeeding the Audio Video Interleaved (AVI) file format.
"AVI was initially specified in 1990, when the personal computer was not used for professional media authoring and the Internet was not in widespread use," said David Cole, vice president of the Web client and consumer experience division at Microsoft. "Supporting ASF and AAF in Windows allows us to move our multimedia platform forward by delivering two formats, each specifically optimized for a major and exciting development in the marketplace."
Both ASF and AAF were developed in an open industry process. Microsoft and major contributors to both ASF and AAF are active participants in industry standards proceedings and have offered all or part of both ASF and AAF to appropriate standards bodies, including the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and the International Standards Organization (ISO). Microsoft is confident that these submissions will play major roles in the formulation of emerging industry standards and is committed to supporting the industry's standards process.
AAF - released today for public review - is the result of Microsoft's collaboration with eight leading professional media software and hardware companies: Adobe Systems Inc., Avid Technology Inc., Digidesign, Matrox Video Products Group, Pinnacle Systems Inc., Softimage Inc., Sonic Foundry Inc. and Truevision Inc. It will allow developers to work with a broader range of tools and to focus their creative energies on the quality of their content. Content creators will be able to choose the best tool for the job, without having to convert their multimedia files from one format to another. Using AAF, tool developers will be able to focus on feature-set improvements rather than file conversion.
To produce the ASF specification, Microsoft collaborated with industry leaders Adobe Systems, Intel Corp., RealNetworks Inc. and Vivo Software Inc. and received input from more than 20 other companies. ASF is expected to spur the growth of streaming multimedia over networks by increasing the choice of available production tools, boosting the number of Internet broadcasts available for viewing and improving the quality of these broadcasts.
A specification for AAF is available free of charge (connect-time charges may apply) on Microsoft's Web site. Microsoft will provide a software development kit (SDK) and Windows operating system support for AAF by early 1999.
Support for ASF 1.0 will be included in future versions of Windows; support for ASF 2.0 will be provided via updates to Windows 98 and the Windows NT® operating system version 5.0. A specification and SDK for ASF 2.0 are available today on Microsoft's Web site. AVI will continue to be supported in Windows, and conversion tools between AVI, ASF and AAF will be provided. For additional information, see http://www.microsoft.com/winmm/.
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