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Thursday, September 05, 2002
Microsoft debuts new Windows Media Player 9 series


This evening at the Hollywood and Highlands Complex, Microsoft Corp. announced the immediate beta availability of the new Windows Media Player 9 Series. A key component of the larger Windows Media 9 Series platform also launching today, Windows Media Player 9 Series offers a host of new and improved features for both digital media enthusiasts and the power users who demand ultimate control and audiophile-level quality for creating, managing and playing back their digital music and video collections.

The beta is available for download today at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia/ and http://windowsmedia.com/.

"Windows Media Player 9 Series opens the door to the great new experiences enabled by the Windows Media 9 Series platform," said Will Poole, vice president of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. "We designed our new player for both the typical user who just wants an easier, faster and more flexible experience, as well as the audiophile who demands the highest possible recording and playback quality."

Windows Media Player 9 Series offers new and improved features for fast and flexible playback for digital media enthusiasts, new Smart Jukebox features to make managing and enjoying digital media effortless, and unmatched audio and video quality.

The new player will also offer a new innovative Services tab to allow users easy access to a broad range of music and video subscription services from pressplay, Full Audio, Cinema Now and Intertainer tightly integrated within the Windows Media Player 9 series to offer the best subscription services experience and choice available.

pressplay also announced today that it is offering its leading music subscription service directly in the Services tab of the Windows Media Player 9 Series. This will provide music fans with another convenient and easy way to stream, download, burn to CDs and transfer to portable devices from pressplay's extensive catalog of more than 100,000 songs, while at the same time ensuring secure and seamless delivery of that content using Windows Media DRM. pressplay will also take advantage of Windows Media 9 Series' new Fast Streaming technology to virtually eliminate buffering for broadband users with music streamed through its service, including the thousands of songs that can be continuously streamed on "Radio pressplay."

"Offering pressplay right inside Windows Media Player 9 Series extends the reach of our service to millions of potential new users," said pressplay CEO Mike Bebel. "The new features of the Windows Media 9 Series enable us to offer an even better streaming experience for our members, with virtually no buffering or delays, while at the same time significantly enhancing our customers' digital media experience."

Faster and Flexible Media Playback

Windows Media Player 9 Series sports a faster and more flexible user interface, offering quicker and easier access to all the user's media. The new player is tuned for performance throughout, including startup times for music playback and the ability to search even the largest personal media libraries. Users can now search a 10,000-song collection and access the audio and video library is as much as 5,000 percent faster than the previous versions. Other key playback improvements include the following:

The new Mini-Player Mode offers the first way to shrink the player onto the taskbar, providing all the needed controls and access to all the content in the user's media library yet placed neatly and cleanly out of the way of other tasks. The new Queue It Up feature allows users to instantly add any content to the current playlist. Variable Speed Playback offers easy skimming of content to get the information users deem most important to them. It has the ability to slow down or speed up audio and video playback without changing pitch and tone of the audio. The new InfoCenter view offers new discoveries about the user's favorite media with instant access to compete song metadata and the ability to rate music.

The First All-in-One Player With Smart Jukebox Features

Windows Media Player 9 Series takes the work out of finding, organizing and burning personal digital media by offering intelligent music mix management with Auto Playlists and automated organization with Auto Info to automatically update an existing digital music collection with the correct track, artist and album names. An Advanced Tag Editor provides new levels of control over the user's media information with 35 different data tags. New Personal DJ features enable volume normalizing, crossfading between songs and playlists, and improved burning of CDs, including data CDs. Users can easily create their own CDs, which can contain more than 22 hours of high-quality Windows Media music for playback on more than 100 Windows Media-compatible DVD players, car stereos or portable CD players.

Breakthrough Audio and Video Quality

Windows Media Player 9 Series redefines audio and video quality for digital media fans and audiophiles, with full support for the remarkable Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series technology. Whether streaming over networks ranging from dial-up to broadband or playing content back locally, users will enjoy the highest possible quality. Windows Media Audio 9 provides a 20 percent improvement in quality compared with the previous version, and the new variable bit rate mode further improves audio quality. The breakthrough Windows Media Audio 9 Professional for the first time enables users to enjoy Web-based delivery of 5.1-channel digital surround sound for a home-theater-like experience, at rates as low as 128 Kbps and 96kHz/24-bit audio fidelity. For audiophiles, the new Windows Media Audio 9 Lossless codec provides bit-perfect copying of personal CDs at one-half to one-third the size of the original CD.

Support for Windows Media Video 9 offers up to 50 percent improvement in video quality, depending on bit rate, offering the same quality at half the bit rate of MPEG-4 and approximately one-third the bit rate of MPEG-2. The new Video Frame Smoothing feature dramatically improves video quality for low-bit-rate or low-frame -rate home movies, downloads and streaming video.

Great Alone; Even Better Together With Windows Media 9 Series Components

Working in harmony with the other components of Windows Media 9 Series, the new player provides a dramatically improved playback experience. Combined with the new streaming server Windows Media 9 Series in Windows .NET Server, the new player offers built-in support for Fast Streaming technology, offering instant on/always on streaming for broadband users and a dramatic improvement for dial-up users. The new streaming server can also deliver personalized content to the new player that has been dynamically arranged by a content provider or network operator using server-side playlists. Together, Windows Media Player 9 Series and the Windows Media 9 Series platform offer digital media fans the content they want, delivered more reliably and without waiting for buffering.


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