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Microsoft partners with Sony, BMG to battle MP3

November 17, 1999
Web posted at: 10:59 a.m. EST (1559 GMT)

by Laura Rohde


(IDG) -- In an effort to avoid being completely overshadowed by MP3 music technology, Microsoft has revealed a number of music-related agreements at Comdex, including Tuesday's joint announcement with Sony that Microsoft Windows Media Audio will be compatible with Sony's copyright protection technology, OpenMG.

Sony and Microsoft will also collaborate on making the Microsoft audio compression technology work with Sony's new VAIO Music Clip (MC-P10), the portable pen-size digital audio player Sony unveiled at Comdex. Both OpenMG and the VAIO Music Clip already work with MP3 music files. Sony's own proprietary ATRAC3 format will also support Windows Media Audio, the companies said in a joint announcement.

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More COMDEX 1999 stories
MP3: The new wave Comdex
In the race to bring high quality digital music from the Internet and the PC to portable players, Microsoft has lost a lot of ground to MP3 in terms of playback, recording and transfer capabilities. The MP3 file format and related player technology also has technology for secure digital music transfers.

Though Microsoft says files using its technology require half the amount of storage space that an MP3 file needs, the MP3 technology was out of the gate first and continues to enjoy a renegade reputation that Microsoft's CD-quality music transfer technology finds elusive.

Yesterday Microsoft announced an alliance with BMG Entertainment, a division of Bertelsmann AG. Fourteen BMG artists, such as The Foo Fighters and The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, will release singles that can be played online using the Windows Media Audio format.

Each month, a new BMG artist will be featured on the BMG Artist Showcase at the online media guide, with video and audio downloadable exclusively in the Microsoft music format. Entire songs will not be available for download, only "previews" of audio as well as video clips. Currently, song previews of Prince's new CD "Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic" are available online while the Foo Fighters' newest effort, "There Is Nothing Left to Lose," will get its preview showcase on Nov. 22.

It is not unusual for entire songs to be released in the MP3 format. For example, music label Matador Records Inc. posts entire MP3 singles from such artists as Pavement and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

While S3 Inc. was demonstrating its new Rio MP3 player in Los Angeles at the Webnoize conference, Microsoft and Diamond Multimedia Inc. (a division of S3 Inc.) demonstrated Windows Media Technologies 4 on Diamond's SDMI (Secure Digital Music Initiative) capable Rio portable music players. The third generation of Rio players will also build in support for Windows Media Device Manager technology for secure music transfer, the companies said.

Microsoft also announced at Webnoize yesterday that TVT Records will make its entire music catalog of 100 titles available to download for a fee. Singles will cost 99 cents each and entire CDs will run $9.99. All music can be securely downloaded using the Microsoft technology, the companies said.

Comdex: S3 to demo new Rio MP3 player
November 15, 1999
The MP3 Revolution
October 5, 1999
Packard Bell NEC aims new PC at music lovers
October 18, 1999
Access your CDs anywhere
October 18, 1999

Sony debuts MusicClip MP3 player
S3 to demo new Rio MP3 player
New Rio lets the music play longer
(PC World Online)
Universal goes after
(The Industry Standard)
Download tunes to a Walkman
(PC World Online)
Downloadable music rocks the Web
(PC World Online)
Despite SDMI pact, online music faces hurdles
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