Microsoft tunes Windows media software

Microsoft Corp. Friday will release a near-final version of its Windows Media Player 9 software and announce the availability of a new version of its digital home-movie-making application, which uses the latest Windows Media Video file format.

The company will post online Release Candidate 1 of its newest media player, said Michael Aldridge, lead product manager with the Windows digital media group at Microsoft. It should feature performance improvements over earlier beta versions that have been available for testing since September.

The company expects to gather feedback from testers over the next month but wouldn't commit to a final release date.

"We have expected to release it by the end of this year, but it really depends on what we need to do to meet the quality bar," Aldridge said. Friday's release is "a good indicator that we're making very good progress," he said.

Windows Media Player 9 will be available in two versions: one for Windows XP and a less feature-filled make for earlier Windows operating systems, the company said.

Microsoft's player competes against those from Apple Computer Inc. and RealNetworks Inc. Seattle-based RealNetworks this week announced the availability of the source code for a free version of its RealOne player. With it, developers can build their own media players for Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems.

Separately, Microsoft's digital media software group Friday made available beta version 2.0 of Windows MovieMaker, an application designed exclusively for Windows XP users for editing and creating digital movies.

With it, users can import digital video in the AVI (Audio Video Interleaved) file format, standard on most digital video cameras, in addition to MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group). Video can then be edited down and mixed with audio and text. Version 2.0 of the software will also for the first time allow users to save movies in AVI or Windows Media Video 9, Microsoft's proprietary file format.

Microsoft said one of the benefits of using its proprietary format is that it can retain image quality while compressing video into a small file that can be e-mailed or streamed over the Internet. For example, 45 minutes of video saved in AVI would just about fill up a 10G byte hard disk. That same amount of storage space could hold 15 hours of data saved in the Windows Media Video 9 format with comparable quality, Aldridge said.

However, Windows Media Video 9 files can be played back only on Windows Media Player 9, which currently is available only in test versions.

New features in Windows MovieMaker 2.0 include built-in video CD burning, an improved navigation bar and the addition of wizards that takes users through the movie-making process in a series of mouse clicks.

"The consumer challenge today is ... they have no idea what the first step is when making a movie; they have no idea what the process is," Aldridge said.

MovieMaker 2.0 also features a new technology developed by Microsoft Research, called AutoMovie. With it, a user can chose any number of video files, audio files and text and have that automatically edited down and compiled into a final movie. The process involves three steps where a user can chose how they want the movie to be compiled, and it takes about 15 minutes to generate, according to Microsoft.

"It analyzes the music you pick, the video clips you pick, and then it matches the crescendos and dynamics of the music to the video," Aldridge said. The AutoMovie feature adds transitions, slow motion and video effects based on its analysis, he said.

The Windows MovieMaker 2.0 beta version is available for download at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/moviemaker/.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Berger

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?