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Thursday, March 29, 2001
Microsoft Releases Windows Media Audio and Video 8

Microsoft announced the final release of Windows Media Audio and Video 8, which makes possible the real-time delivery of full-screen, near-DVD-quality film content over broadband connections at rates as low as 500 Kbps and near-CD-quality audio at 48 Kbps. Microsoft Windows Media Audio and Video 8 delivers a 30 percent improvement in quality compared with the previous version, according to Microsoft.

The Windows Media Audio and Video 8 codecs are compatible with Microsoft Windows Media Player 7 and 6.4, as well as the new Windows Media Player 7 for Mac, also released today.

Windows Media Audio 8 nearly triples the audio compression of the MP3 format, making it possible to store almost three times as much CD-quality music on hard drives and portable devices. All of the consumer devices that support Windows Media Audio already support Windows Media Audio 8 and require no technology upgrade.

Key features of Windows Media Video 8 include:
Near-VHS quality at rates as low as 250 Kbps with 320x240 pixel resolution at 24 frames per second
Near-DVD quality at rates as low as 500 Kbps with 640x480 pixel resolution at 24 frames per second
A widely deployed digital rights management (DRM) technology for protecting streamed and downloaded audio and video content on the Internet

For download-and-play uses, Windows Media Video 8 provides true variable bit rate (VBR) and two-pass encoding. True VBR encoding eliminates the 25-second barrier of other technologies, instead averaging encoding resources over an entire feature-length film and guaranteeing the best video quality, even through extended high-action sequences.

Key Features of Windows Media Audio 8:
Achieves CD-quality sound at 64 Kbps.
Near-CD-quality sound at 48 Kbps, comparable to MP3 files encoded at 128 Kbps.
Fully compatible with Windows Media Player 6.4, Windows Media Player 7, Windows Media Player 7 for Mac and consumer electronic devices that support Windows Media Audio.

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