Windows Media 9 headed for consumer electronics

Microsoft has teamed up with STMicroelectronics (STMicro) to develop a series of chips for consumer electronics devices that support Windows Media 9.

Designed for use in devices such as DVD players and set-top boxes, the new line of chips from STMicro would support Windows Media Audio 9, Windows Media Audio 9 Professional and Windows Media Video 9, which included support for high-definition video, the two partners said in a statement.

The chips will extend support for Windows Media 9 to non-PC devices, reflecting the blurring lines between computing and consumer electronics. In addition to DVD players and set-top boxes, the chips can be used in devices that support Windows XP Media Center Edition Extender Technologies, Windows Media Connect, and Microsoft's IP (Internet Protocol) Television technology.

The companies did not state when the new chips would be available from STMicro.

Microsoft has been pushing Windows Media 9 into non-PC applications with an eye towards playing a larger role in the consumer electronics arena.

For example, researchers at the Optoelectronics and Systems Laboratories (OES) of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) in Taiwan announced in April an optical disc format called FVD (Forward Versatile Disc), which was developed as a low-cost disc format for high-definition video.

The first version of the new format, called FVD-1, can hold 5.4GB of data on a single-sided, single-layer disc and 9.8GB on a single-sided dual-layer disc. A second version of the format, FVD-2, will offer more capacity. A single-sided single-layer FVD-2 disc can hold 6GB and a single-sided, dual-layer disc can hold 11GB of data.

By comparison, standard DVDs hold about 4.7GB of data and the Enhanced Versatile Disc (EVD) format, developed by researchers in China, can hold about 9GB of data.

Unlike the DVD and EVD formats, FVD supports Windows Media Video 9 and Windows Media Audio 9 Professional. Using Windows Media Video 9, FVD-1 discs can hold up to 135 minutes of high-definition video, enough to encode most feature-length movies on a single disc, according to OES.

The first FVD players will hit the market during the second half this year.

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