Final Release of Windows Media 9 Series Starts Next Wave of Digital Media

New Windows Media Licensing Program Enables High-Quality Digital Media On All Hardware and Software Platforms at Terms Unmatched in the Industry

REDMOND, Wash. -- Jan. 7, 2003 -- Today Microsoft Corp. announced the immediate availability of Windows Media® 9 Series, the next-generation digital media platform that offers benefits for hardware and software vendors, the media and entertainment industry, consumers in the home, and organizations looking to communicate and train more effectively.

Microsoft also announced a new licensing program for Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series that enables device manufacturers and software developers to build high-quality digital audio and video features into a broader range of their products -- with longer terms and lower prices than those of other technologies such as MPEG-4 and MPEG-2.

Windows Media has been widely adopted by device manufacturers, software vendors and content providers, with more than 170 devices, hundreds of applications, and hundreds of thousands of popular songs and movies currently available supporting it. Today's release of Windows Media 9 Series and the new licensing program delivers on Microsoft's long-standing vision of enabling digital media everywhere. With innovations such as high-definition video at up to six times the resolution of DVD, the first 5.1-channel surround sound streaming audio, and a faster, more-televisionlike experience with media on the Web, Windows Media 9 Series provides dramatically improved media playback for all users and offers the most comprehensive platform features for hardware and software manufacturers, enabling them to build their own unique products and services.

"The unmatched audio and video quality of Windows Media 9 Series is now available under the most flexible and attractive license terms in the industry," said Will Poole, corporate vice president of the Windows New Media Platforms Division at Microsoft. "This combination of best-in-class technology and compelling licensing means the entire digital media ecosystem -- from lens to screen -- can grow and thrive more easily and cost effectively."

New Windows Media Licensing: Unleashing the Full Potential of Digital Media

The new licensing terms available today cover the following key components of the Windows Media Format:

The terms enable licensees to develop implementations of Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series codecs in a wide range of environments, including hardware devices and non-Windows® -based computers, and to include the Windows Media codecs in their products in any file container and at costs significantly lower than for other technologies, such as MPEG-4 and MPEG-2. For example, unit pricing for Windows Media Video 9 (WMV 9) on devices and non-Windows platforms is 10 cents per decoder, 20 cents per encoder and 25 cents for both encoder/decoder. By comparison, MPEG-4 video is more expensive, with a unit price for decoder, encoder and encoder/decoder licensing of 25 cents, 25 cents and 50 cents, respectively. There is also a significant content use fee for MPEG-4, while there are no content use fees for the Windows Media Audio and Video codecs.

The duration of the licenses has been extended so they provide an optimal match for the planning, design, release and support cycles of manufacturers in the consumer electronics industry. Microsoft also committed to maintain backward compatibility to help ensure that content created using future versions of the audio and video codecs will play back in earlier generations of devices, yet still deliver the additional quality improvements offered by the new codecs.

By enabling the use of Windows Media codecs independently of ASF, software vendors that support encoding, editing or playing back content in containers such as AVI or MPEG can quickly and easily include support for the superior compression of Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series in their applications.

In addition, software vendors that develop applications on non-Windows-based platforms now have the option of licensing the Windows Media codecs to build high-quality digital media encoding and playback support into their products. This will allow them to extend the reach of their Windows Media-based solutions and increase the interoperability of their products.

For several years Microsoft has led the industry in offering proven, flexible digital rights management technology to enable new business models and a fair exchange of value between consumers and content owners. Microsoft is also offering DRM licensing on similar terms to the new Windows Media licensing program, either for use in conjunction with the Windows Media Format components or independently, for consumer electronic devices.

Overall, the new licensing program makes it easier for hardware and software developers alike to take advantage of the high quality of the Windows Media 9 Series in their own products.

The Technology Foundation for a Digital Future: Windows Media 9 Series

Windows Media 9 Series offers a foundation for the digital future of the media and entertainment industry, consumers, developers and business. It includes several key components to deliver breakthrough digital media capabilities:

Together, these components transform digital media by delivering the following:

The Industry Rallies Around Windows Media 9 Series

In a groundswell of support for the new platform, more than 70 companies announced they are using Windows Media 9 Series in their own products and services, including the following:


The final versions of Windows Media Player 9 Series, Windows Media Encoder 9 Series and Windows Media 9 Series SDK are available for public download at noon today from

The final version of Windows Media Services 9 Series will be available with the upcoming release of Windows .NET Server 2003. Release Candidate 2 of Windows .NET Server is available today at

To enhance the transparency of the new licensing program, Microsoft has implemented improved Web-based licensing for Windows Media, which any interested party can view at noon today at

About Windows Media

Windows Media is the leading digital media platform, used by consumers, content providers, solution providers, software developers and corporations throughout the world. The Windows Media 9 Series platform includes Windows Media Player 9 Series; Windows Media Services 9 Series, the powerful streaming server feature in Windows .NET Server 2003 for distributing content; Windows Media Encoder 9 Series for content creation; Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series for the best-quality audio and video; Windows Media Digital Rights Management to help protect content; and the Windows Media Software Development Kit for use by software developers to develop digital media products and services. Windows Media Player, available in 26 languages, is now the leading media player. More information about Windows Media can be found at

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software -- any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft, Windows Media and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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