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CD/DVD Manufacturers To Support Windows Media 297

Anonymous Coward writes "Seattle P-I story on MS's latest move towards having their finger in every slice of the content pie. Oh, goody. 'Microsoft Corp. plans to announce today that four DVD makers will incorporate its Windows Media Audio technology into their players, enabling consumers to play CDs and DVDs they compiled using that technology. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, DVD makers Toshiba, Panasonic, Apex Digital Inc. and Shinco, a Chinese manufacturer, will announce plans to support Windows Media Format in some or all of their models this year, said Michael Aldridge, lead product manager for Microsoft's Windows digital media division.'" We've mentioned this before, but there are a few more details now.
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CD/DVD Manufacturers To Support Windows Media

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  • Why is MS so bad for thinking of this first? Why didn't Real or Apple think about this? Maybe that's why MS is so successful. Because they have good business people that can think up of new ways to grow the business.
    • by Ripp ( 17047 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @10:54AM (#2798120) Journal
      Why is this bad? At least Apple had the presence of mind to enable their software/machines to create more-or-less *real* (read: based on MPEG-2) DVD's. There are standards out there.

      Microsoft is either strong-arming or 'making-an-offer-they-can't-refuse' to the other device makers to include their formats because of Windows XP's ability to import and edit video...but only export into Windows Media format. Unless you can show me where the device makers *went to Microsoft* and said 'we want to include your tech in our machines!' then don't tell me this isn't how it is.

      If this doesn't qualify as using monopoly powers to extend said monopoly into separate markets then I don't know what does.
    • Why is MS so bad for thinking of this first?

      Well, for the simple reason that Windows Media will continue to remain a properitary format, and we poor people who cant afford MS Windows XX, or who prefer to use alternate Operating Systems will be left in the dumps. Atleast Real comes with a Real audio player for linux. Apple is as bad as MS, btw. Properitary and closed!
      • by Aapje ( 237149 )
        Sigh, Quicktime is fully open (not the source, but it is fully standardized). You can build your own version. In fact, a few open source projects are under way. This only leaves sorenson as a barrier for Linux, which:

        1. Is not owned by Apple.
        2. Doesn't have to be used. Blame the content-providers for not using an alternative (or the open-source community for not providing a free codec that is a good alternative).

        No way you can blame Apple that the content-providers are using a proprietary, closed codec when Quicktime is an open architecture that can easily accomodate new codecs. Why don't you provide and ask content-provider to use a good cross-platform alternative (perhaps Divx 4). This will solve the entire problem.
        • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @01:08PM (#2798862) Homepage Journal
          The Sorenson codec may not be owned by Apple, but they are the sole licensees from Sorenson, and Sorenson cannot release the codec to anybody else without Apple's approval.

          So, if you contact Apple, they will say "Don't talk to us, we don't own it, talk to Sorenson."

          And if you talk to Sorenson, they will say "We'd LOVE to license it to you, really we would, but we cannot without Apple's approval, go talk to them".

          Nice game of "Go ask your mother" there...
          • So, if you contact Apple, they will say "Don't talk to us, we don't own it, talk to Sorenson."

            And if you talk to Sorenson, they will say "We'd LOVE to license it to you, really we would, but we cannot without Apple's approval, go talk to them".

            So why not arrange a three-way conference call among the three legal departments? On most telephone exchanges, it's as easy as click, dial, click, discuss terms.

            That is, unless Sorenson is right, and (as rumored) Microsoft is StrongARMing Apple with terms such as "if you release QuickTime for Linux, we discontinue Office for Mac."

            • You are missing the point. The point is, neither Apple nor Sorenson wish to license the codec to anybody else, least of all a Free or Open Source software project.

              Apple uses the Sorenson codec as a USP (unique selling point) of their Quicktime players. Were some other program to become able to play Sorenson files, then Quicktime would lose market share. This will not do. So Apple won't let it happen.

              So, by playing the "Go ask you mother" game, neither Apple nor Sorenson incur the wroth of the FS/OSS movement, yet they accomplish their goal.

              It is APPLE that is doing the strong-arming, not MS - if MS told Apple "no Sorenson for Linux", Apple would probably do it just out of spite.

              At least, that is my hypothesis on the subject. I have no hard evidence, but if you go to the Xanim web page, and read what he has to say....
        • Apple does infact have an exclusive license for the relevant part of "quicktime": the Sorenson codec.

          Apple does indeed "own it".

          No number of Apple cheerleaders will alter this.
      • Apple is a PITA, agreed; the lack of an official Quicktime player for linux (let's ignore the other kludges at the moment, most of which don't play the Sorensen codec) is one of the main reasons I need to keep Windows around. If I could just get VMWare to play audio without skipping (yes, I know about the tweaks in the cfg file; I've tried a few settings without much luck), I'd have that covered as well, but the playback of a quicktime movie I tried a couple of days ago was very jerky, even on an Athlon XP 1800.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I hope they would make divx playable instead :)
      • The original divx (3.11) WAS the Microsoft MPEG4 codec used in their WMV/ASF files. The intrepid hackers ripped the codec so it could also be used to encode unprotected AVI files. There's nothing really wrong with the codec, it just has a lame copy-protected patented [] file format wrapped around it.
    • Actually, it sounds like at least Real did think of doing this. From the article:
      Seattle's RealNetworks Inc., which competes with Microsoft in the streaming and downloaded media arena, said it plans to make announcements tomorrow about alliances with home-entertainment companies.
      Guess they just didn't get it announced before Microsoft.
    • People who are interested in technology tend to be impressed by good technology and not by good business. Why should people think positive about MS's move? They get more power for their business; power which otherwise could be used for better standards and the support of better technology.
    • by evbergen ( 31483 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @11:06AM (#2798188) Homepage
      That's not the big deal.

      I don't care in the least that it's Microsoft and not Apple or Real who succeeded in getting their proprietary format accepted by the electronics manufacturers; the real problem is properietary media formats, period.

      The bigger problem is that none of the people in charge (the media industry) has any interest in formats with open specifications, because that would defeat the scheme to move everything to pay-per-view that is taking place:

      * closed media formats + anti-reverse engineering laws give control over which players you can use, and

      * closed players + anti-circumvention laws give control over how many times you can enjoy the content before having to pay again.

      It's just that simple.
    • Why is MS so bad for thinking of this first? Why didn't Real or Apple think about this?

      IMHO, DVDs work just fine as they are, and there is no obvious reason why this new "feature" should be added. I suspect because m$ has promised to support strong digital rights management in their format...

      I can only wonder how long it will be before DVD players have BSODs.

      Maybe that's why MS is so successful.

      Probably. I am sure that the fact they operate like a predatory monopoly has nothing to do with it!

      Because they have good business people that can think up of new ways to grow the business.

      It seems to me that whenever m$ tries to "grow the business" it brings to mind images of Pinky and the Brain:

      Balmer: Gee Bill, what are we going to do tonight?
      Gates: Same thing we do every night Steve: Try to take over the world!
      Balmer: Developers! Developers! Developers! Zort! Narf!

      The whole monopoly seems to be based on the business model of The Borg: co-opt every piece of technology around, add it's distinctiveness to their own - and charge a license to the developers and end users...
    • We can compare this debate to the competition of television delivery formats.

      Here we have the majority of service coming from cable, satellite providers. If you watch TV at all, you will notice that they are in quite the battle for market share.

      This is essentially the same situation as the one going on with all these media formats. They all have their own characteristics, features, pros, and cons. Like cable and sattelite TV providers, owners of their respective media formats are also vying for supremacy.

      However I never see anyone here berating Comcast or Dish Network for their competetive strategies. Why is Microsoft the only company out there that shouldn't be allowed to promote its own proprietary standard?

    • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @11:47AM (#2798383) Homepage Journal
      What's bad about it is that there is not a single end-user (a.k.a. consumer) who wants this. It is being done purely for trade-restraint reasons. There is no other conceivable explanation for it.
    • by erat ( 2665 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:17PM (#2798579)
      Okay, since when has it been evil to say that something Microsoft is doing may not be a bad thing? At the time I typed this, the top level message was modded down to "Flaimbait".


      Face it, folks, there is nothing wrong with DVD players supporting Microsoft media formats. This does not take away from your ability to view DVDs; if anything, it opens up the device to play more diverse formats which as we all know is a GOOD thing.

      But hey, if you don't want to be touched by MS in any way, stop playing WAV files, don't touch XML or SOAP, don't incorporate any standards into the whiz-bang window manager you're writing, don't code any more web content using any modern HTML standards, blah blah blah.

      Sorry, but some of you REALLY need to learn how to pick your battles (like I do, I guess, considering that this message will probably be modded down as well and in the end won't make anyone see any more light than they're already seeing).

      E. (A non-Windows user...)
    • Every day I think of a million ideas to stomp and squash on standards... but being a good person I keep it to myself.
  • STOP IT!!! (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by einer ( 459199 )
    Stop trying to get crap formats to play on DVD!!! Damnit, DVD is for clear crisp quality picture. I will NOT have this technology ruined by idiots who seem to believe it's better to have grainy shitty picture and audio on their television... "OOOooooh, but it's on the television, not the computer monitor... Neeeeeato...." GO TO HELL AND LEAVE MY DVD PLAYER ALONE!
    • Re:STOP IT!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cavemanf16 ( 303184 )
      DVD stands for Digital Versatile Disk, not Digital Video Disk. It's not SUPPOSED to be limited to your 'high quality crisp audio/video.' If I can use a DVD to store twice the number of lossy format mp3's and still play on my car stereo, then it's worth it to me.
  • I wan't divx.....
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @10:50AM (#2798089)
    There are gigs and gigs of both pirate and legitimate divx3 and 4 videos out there to be had on IRC, Usenet, FT, and Gnutella.

    The only ones who use WMV are corporate entities who don't have anything good to encode anyway...

    • by 4im ( 181450 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @11:11AM (#2798213)

      There are gigs and gigs of both pirate and legitimate divx3 and 4 videos out there to be had on IRC, Usenet, FT, and Gnutella.

      The only ones who use WMV are corporate entities who don't have anything good to encode anyway...

      I'm quite sure you're absolutely right there. Problem is, MS still isn't over the DivX ;-) guy's ripping of their codec, and go on ranting about that "pirated and poorly hacked" codec. Just check out their newsgroups. They go on saying how DivX is only used for DVD rips and pr0n, and "real" content providers wouldn't ever use anything but their own (better, supported) technology (their terms, not mine). Problem is, the corporate drones actually believe this. And as compared to Real Media, WM actually is very cheap.

      Unfortunately, I have to work with WM right now. And I hate it, on technical grounds. Try to do anything beyond the most simple A/V streaming stuff, and you have to wade through monstrous inconsistencies and bugs, and no help whatsoever to expect from their newsgroups - I won't have to mention insufficient and hard to find documentation from MSDN. Only good thing: end of february, I'm outta here. And good riddance.

    • by trcooper ( 18794 ) <`gro.tuoder' `ta' `pooc'> on Monday January 07, 2002 @11:20AM (#2798262) Homepage
      Did you even read the article? If you had you probably would had read the first paragraph which said:

      "Microsoft Corp. plans to announce today that four DVD makers will incorporate its Windows Media Audio technology into their players, enabling consumers to play CDs and DVDs they compiled using that technology."

      So, like some DVD players can play MP3 CD's, some will be able to play WMA CD's. Not be able to show CD's and DVD's with WMV's on them. Big deal.
      • Not be able to show CD's and DVD's with WMV's on them. Big deal.

        So M$ has convinced hardware makers to spend extra money supporting an inferior media format for auidio. The inferior media format has provisions for inferior video too, hmmm. Do you think it will take that long for M$ to push that too if they have not already?

        Gee Bill, that's almost as bad as that book you wrote about the road ahead.

    • Yea, you can talk about the "gigs and gigs" of DiVX out there...heck, you could even move on and talk about the terabytes upon terabytes upon terabytes of MP3s as well.

      It doesn't matter. $$ wins. TKO. Go to jail. Fatality.

      "Open standards" mean nothing to businesses.

      --Geek walks into Sony's board room.
      CEO: "What should we support with our CD player?"
      Geek: "MP3."
      CEO: "Why?"
      Geek: "Because everyone uses it."
      CEO: "So it's not ours to control?"
      Geek: --Laughs and snorts
      CEO: "Leave and never come back."

      --Bill Gates walks into Sony's board room.
      CEO: "What should we support with our CD player?"
      Bill: "WMA."
      CEO: "Why?"
      Bill: "It's hard to pirate. You save $$."
      CEO: "Also?"
      Bill: "New technology. People have it, you play it. You get $$."
      CEO: "And?"
      Bill: --Dumps shitload of money on boardroom table.
      CEO: "Okay then."

      Corporations won't be able to control DiVX. Corporations won't be able to control MP3. But they can control WMA, since WMA is owned by one of their fellow corporations. It doesn't matter how widely it's used. What matters is how much $$ is to be made.
  • by bihoy ( 100694 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @10:50AM (#2798093)

    I think that having more formats is a good thing.
    Not that I'm an MS fan. "Let the markets decide."
    • Not that I'm an MS fan. "Let the markets decide."

      Yes, lets. For the markets to decide, however, Microsoft would have to quit paying content providers and boxmakers huge sums to include their formats. The "market" isn't deciding here, unless you count having your options reduced and choosing between the lesser options. If they succeed here, it won't be long before you'll only be able to find WMF-only audio players. If it gets popular, Microsoft will use their toehold to start excluding competing formats, like MP3. Forget about ever seeing Ogg on a device that supports WMF...

      Microsoft is busily using it's huge cash reserves to buy into markets it wants into -- regardless of whether consumers want them there or not. Witness the recent takeover of Qwest's DSL and dial-up customers. Two corporate giants make a deal, Microsoft throws a butt-load of money at the "problem" and *poof* thousands of formerly-happy Qwest DSL customers are now forced to use MSN. (Hilariously, MSN doesn't even support all of Microsoft's OSes, much less Linux or other OSes... NT isn't supported at all, and XP has "issues" according to Qwest/Microsoft's transition page...)

      Until Microsoft can get Windows right, they shouldn't be allowed to branch out any further.

      Frankly, I'm just sick of seeing Microsoft around every corner. They're worse than Wal-Mart and McDonalds combined...
    • I think that having more formats is a good thing.
      Not that I'm an MS fan. "Let the markets decide."

      Isn't that the standard disclaimer all MS atroturfers use?
  • by nougatmachine ( 445974 ) <johndagen&netscape,net> on Monday January 07, 2002 @10:50AM (#2798094) Homepage
    ...that this is not a great deal worse than we were before. DVDs have always been the most annoying, closed media around, and theses companies are really trying to prevent any 'unlicensed' players from being able to play these discs.
    • by reaper20 ( 23396 )
      Agreed, even the 'licensed' players are crap. I made the mistake of throwing my Episode I DVD in my DVD player on my WinXP box. Naturally, some crap Intervideo or whatever is installed and all of a sudden, I can't play any DVDs on my Windows box, and naturally, it crashes and as usual, and then throws some bullshit icon in the system tray.

      Of course, it STILL wouldn't let me goto the link and get the web content 'exclusively for DVD owners.' So I had to get the trailer through Morpheus, go figure.

      I'm sick of the failed promise of DVD, special 2-disc versions that cost more and could easily fit one one side, one disc, crappy discs without 5.1, and and all this exclusive web content that doesn't work.
  • Theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord_Pall ( 136066 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @10:50AM (#2798095)
    Okay.. Long term theory here..

    Microsoft/media companies get hardware manufacturers to implement wma into most/all dvd/cd player hardware.

    Wma is plainly readable on cdrom drives.

    Combine this with encrypted redbook tracks and wma media players, and viola...

    A set of audio/data cd's that can be played on portable machines, played on dvd/cd players, played on your computer, but can't be ripped into an "open" format..

    And yeah i know the encryption would be broken.. But all in all it sounds like a straightforward controlling strategy.. The media corps get the control they want, and microsoft gets a bigger share of a new market..
    • Combine this with encrypted redbook tracks and wma media players, and viola...

      BTW, it's voila, not viola. Viola in french means "has raped". But then again, it's still relevant... customers are getting raped by the Micro$oft monopoly left and right, PCs, gaming consoles, now CD/DVDs...

    • It's a damn good theory. Fortunately, while people are easily duped by propaganda - they'll forever pay lip service to "stopping pirates" even when it means their digital serfdom - they are a lot smarter when it comes to their wallets. As soon as they buy a CD, they get smarter. Just look at consumer rejection of crippled CDs...

      I, for one, will buy one of those CDs when you put a fucking gun to my head. The danger is if they manage to create CDs that behave this way in suitable players, but work normally in current CD players. That would mean CDs that look like Redbook CDs, but have hidden data that plays under the other schema - or evne just fakes it. I hope that's not possible.

  • Once the DRM stuff is cracked (Microsoft encryption -- how hard can it be), we can play the DVD anywhere.
  • Already started (Score:5, Informative)

    by yellowstone ( 62484 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @10:52AM (#2798108) Homepage Journal
    Rio Volt [] (a portable CD/CDR/MP3 player) already supports Windows Media format.
  • by jmd! ( 111669 ) <jmd@pobox. c o m> on Monday January 07, 2002 @10:54AM (#2798118) Homepage
    How long until they're adding windows media video support? Since MPEG-2 encrypted with CSS has ben defeated, moving to Microsoft's content control mechanisms sounds like something the MPAA would be for. This would have the fun bonus of giving Microsoft a monopoly on DVD software, and making DVD playing on Linux (excluding the current illegal hacks, which aren't a nice way to experiance the media you payed for; no menus to access lots of the content) even more of a pipe dream.
    • When this story first broke about a month ago with MS looking to license out WMA to DVD makers, many, including myself, pointed out the stupidity that would occur if MPAA converted to WMV for DVD playback, at least in the next 5 to 10-year timespan. There would be a large consumer backlash for those that have bought DVD players recently to find that the newest releases don't work on their boxes. Maybe in 5-10 years when consumers typically rollover their electronics for the latest and greatest, but not before that point.

      But again, as pointed out by others today, this is only for WMA, not WMV. From my occasional experience with WMV, I don't think it can live up to what we've come to expect for MPEG-2 DVD encoding, but I'm sure that if prompted, MS could certainly beef up the code to make it better.

    • Not long. Think downloadable movies/ encrypted data/ hardware & OS that only works with MS certified drivers/ Media companies that want to limit copies/ Draw your own conclusions. They are right. I'm thinking DL'ing a movie for a fee about the price of a DVD on the shelf, Encrypeted to only work on the machine that DL'ed it. The DL would only allow one DVD to be made per purchase. You can't copy / rip this and give it to your friends and have it work! Thats my theory because it locks in MS (they like that) and it makes the media companies happy (the only way they will allow a DL and burn copy) If you want a copy for the guy next door, you will have to buy each and every copy to get it coded for each player. My hope is it's too much hassle and cost to make it worth the effort so it dies on the vine.
    • "This would have the fun bonus of giving Microsoft a monopoly on DVD software"

      The entertainment industry is NOT going to give control of media formats to Microsoft. The entertainment industry rightfully fears Microsoft and is very careful to control MS influence. Remember, MS is fighting SSSCA and similar proposals. Besides, the entertainment industry already has a monopoly on DVD software (the format). IF the industry wanted this, why would MS go to the hardware manufacturers?

      "This would have the fun bonus of giving Microsoft a monopoly on DVD software, and making DVD playing on Linux (excluding the current illegal hacks, which aren't a nice way to experiance the media you payed for; no menus to access lots of the content) even more of a pipe dream."

      Please. All this does is add WMV and WMA support to DVD players. It is actually a brilliant move on MS' part because it allows consumers to create "DVD quality" audio and video on CD. Rather than require consumers to buy expensive DVD burners, MS allows normal CD burners to create this content. This makes MS look good in the eyes of the consumers by decreasing their costs, while hiding the fact that pro level gear software for A/V creation is absent from MS software.

      If such a system is picked up by consumers, MS may be able to bargain for other industries to adopt WMA/WMV, but the entertainment industry is not going to change DVD formats. They've wasted a lot of time already and DVDs are finally starting to take off. No, it'll likely be streaming media, corporate promos and the like that will be switching to MS formats.

      Ironically, given the consumer focus, most content will likely be warez and porn.
    • and making DVD playing on Linux (excluding the current illegal hacks, which aren't a nice way to experiance the media you payed for; no menus to access lots of the content)

      1. The US is not the world. It is a small annoying country between Canada and Mexico. In the US libdvdCSS they might be illegal hacks, in France and New Zealand the CSS itself is illegal, and in the rest of the world they're both quite fine.

      2. Ogle's had menus for agres now, and they work fine. Xine has had them too and I hear also works well.

  • Hmmm.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by phoenix_orb ( 469019 )
    I have a DVD player with progressive out.

    I have no need to replace my DVD player with a new one.

    DVD standard is MPEG2. Period. The standard is MPEG 2, and it is set in stone.

    The problem that I may have is that all of the "extra" features may be in the windoes format. Argh.

    I refuse to buy anything with this crap in it. Damnit, why can't people understand that I don't want Microsoft pervasive into my entire life. They want to be a part of everything... i.e. a little kid with their hands in everything, and they don't like anyone else to play. Well, fine, I won;t buy it. And furthurmore, CmrTaco, you should realize that you put money in those 40 billion dollar coffers when you bought that xbox.

    Shame on you.
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @10:54AM (#2798121)
    The way I read it, it suggests that these DVD makers will continues to offer DVD, CD, VCD, and MP3 playback in addition to adding WMP features as well. This really can be a good thing in terms of making a single 'entertainment' unit that offers movies, audio playback, and, as rumors, possibly adding game console features. That's an ultimate mid-level consumer's dream.

    As long as MS hasn't forced these companies into exclusionary contracts (Which would be a bad choice to make given their current anti-trust case), I can't see anything wrong with this initially. Unfortunately, this also ties in well with RIAAs plans to copy protect every CD. Since many DVD players appear to have problems with these, the new CDs can't play on them. However, I remember reading that MS was talking with the labels into licensing WMP such that every copy protected CD would include a second CD with the album as WMP files.

    • No problem here. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Judebert ( 147131 )
      No problem I can see, anyway. These players (especially the Apex) support all kinds of formats -- just check out's compatibility list []. For instance, MP3 is widely supported; but there are very few MP3 DVDs or CDs other than the ones individuals burn for themselves.

      Likewise, I expect that there will be very few WMA or WMF DVDs. And if there are, we'll just refuse to buy them... or buy them and return them to demonstrate our dissatisfaction more clearly. Much like the copy-protected CDs.

      Really, there's a large installed base of standard DVD players, and very little incentive to get a WM* compatible one. I expect there will be very few such disks.


      We're out of dynamite. What we need is a plan!

  • Corporate vs Orgs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mirko ( 198274 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @11:02AM (#2798170) Journal
    We need the corporation to, on a one-to-one basis, support a proprietary format for an open format.
    asf *and* ogg (I know the latter is audio-specific... are there Free video formats ?), for example.

    This way it will still be possible to give the public to choose between Free Art [] or blockbusters [].

    Until then then we could call this a kind of monopoly as we are only given the choice to upgrade hardware that'll at the end not belong to us anymore (this is IMHO the final consequence of such digital dictatorship as this is the only way to forbid hackers to even look at these devices' internals).
  • by Anonymous Coward

    [Shop] : "Yes sir, how can I help you?"
    [cust] : "I can't play Terminator IV on my DVD Player!"
    [Shop] : "Ah, do you have MSDRM v3.22 installed?"
    [cust] : "Erm, in ENGLISH?!?!"
    [Shop] : "If you go home, bring in your DVD player, and then leave it here for a week, we'll load the update that you need to play the DVD..."
    [cust] : "Erm, OK then. But why does it need an update?"
    [Shop] : "Some stupid kids broke the code or something like that..."
    [cust] : "Oh dear. Well, thanks. I'll bring in my player later..."

    Much time passes...

    [cust] : "Here you go, please do that update thingy..."
    [Shop] : "Sure thing. That'll be £49.99 please..."
    [cust] : (loud and repetitive expletives)

  • by f00zbll ( 526151 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @11:05AM (#2798187)
    Considering DVD audio is still vaporware, this doesn't mean heck of alot. having more choices is good. From the article it state:

    Royalties from Microsoft's DVD licensing deals are "pretty small" compared with the impact the arrangements could have on sales of Microsoft's Windows operating system, Aldridge said.

    I doubt this will mean an increase in cost of DVD players. Even though media player format is lame as other's have noted in the past and present, I don't really care since I am not an audiophile. Most people don't have $2K headphones or $10K electrostatic speakers. The old argument about sound quality for average joe is useless. Heck none of my audio equipment costs more than 60 bucks tops.

    If it means I can play DVD audio files on multiple devices, than it's all good to me.

    • Hmmm, are there any charges for distributing WMA? If so it won't be the hardware that will make MS the money, but the tiny split of every CD/DVD released that takes advantage of this! If there is no such charge, is there any reason to suspect (guarantee) that one will not be introduced as soon as MS decides that it has taken a hold in the market.
  • Toshiba, Panasonic, Apex Digital Inc. and Shinco make crappy dvd players. Dont buy any of them, get a pioneer instead. (apex jokingly stands for "Anime Products EXcluded")

    And as long as vcd is still supported we should have no issues. mpeg-1 will still play, so whats the big deal? eventually wma will be cracked and there will be wma->mpeg and you can burn vcds (and eventually dvds) to your little hearts desire.

    no movie producer in their right mind would release video on disk in this format, it isolates too much of the market. Anything i download can be converted.

    yawn. this doesnt change anything for me. these arnt the droids your looking for, move along.
  • DeCSS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by J'raxis ( 248192 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @11:09AM (#2798207) Homepage
    So, we have DeCSS. Whos up for writing a DeWMA?
  • by Otto ( 17870 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @11:10AM (#2798210) Homepage Journal
    As I see it, this means extra hardware in the DVD players is required. Probably some form of generic CPU, one fast enough to decode the video. The MPEG2 chip for DVD usually gives you VCD/SVCD/etc for free and MP3 decoding on the side. But WMA/WMV are different beasts that don't use the same schemes, right? (Correct me if I'm wrong..)

    So, assuming they put in some form of generic processor for decoding Windows Media formats, what's to stop them (or some other person) from putting in support for all sorts of media formats using that self same processor? Last time I checked my DVD player it didn't have any chips in there fast enough to decode DivX, maybe Microsoft is helping to change that for me.
  • by Darth RadaR ( 221648 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @11:25AM (#2798282) Journal
    ...that this is going to eventually turn DVD players into another WinModem-ish hardware problem.

    I'm too disgusted to go on a rant.... sigh.
    • Not this August,
      You have this year to do as you like.
      Not next August.
      That is still to soon.
      But the year after that,
      Or the year after that,
      They ...

      (With thanks to C.M. Kornbluth [I think])
  • by mcelrath ( 8027 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @11:29AM (#2798305) Homepage
    So M$ has pushed their proprietary crap into yet another niche...So I went looking for movie trailers yesterday, only to find that every single one is distributed only in Quicktime and sometimes WMF or Real. All of which suck if you're on linux. (particularly if your not on Intel)

    So what are we to do, as a community, about the Powers That Be blocking us from content using technological measures? Will someone reverse-engineer the Sorensen codec or write a WMF player for linux? M$ and Apple will rabidly oppose this, and its author would likely be the next Dimitry Skylarov. DVD was just the tip of the iceberg. Heck, it's even taken 2-3 years to get a reasonable HTML viewer, while M$ and Netscrape embraced and extended the standard over and over.

    But from the OSS side of the fence, we don't have the muscle, and aren't organized enough to push our codecs into the forefront. Who, exactly, will negotiate the exclusive contract getting movie trailers in DivX? Or books on tape in Ogg Vorbis?

    It seems the solution isn't creating standards and codified specifications either. We can beat our drum over and over about "standards", but often, standards don't negotiate contracts for themselves. Standards don't magically get chosen by media execs just because they're better. Formats get chosen because there's a nosy M$ sales guy with a bad tie in the dumb exec's office every day for a month. Which OSS philanthropist wants that job?

    Are we doomed forever to have all the power, but none of the content?


    • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:33PM (#2798669) Homepage Journal
      Are we doomed forever to have all the power, but none of the content?

      Sometimes I have to stop myself. While the fact that M$ has managed to twist the arms of hardware manufactures to spend money on inferior "standards" that won't work tomorow, and the implications of this are ominous, the reality today is not so bad. Do I really need the kinds of canned crap the RIAA puts out? I have not bought a non local CD in years. Do I really need a computer to look at crappy movies? On the rare occasion a movie is worth seeing, I go watch it in a theater.

      The implications are the things to worry about, not the content. Worry about your ability to publish in a format that you can share with others. Isn't it more important to share pictures of your wedding with your friends and family than it is to show "Shreck"? How about your ability to publish ordinary papers? Worry about your ability to share published works in a public library. Do we really want to hoard information that way, so that it's pay per play or nothing? Isn't it more important that children and adults can research questions they have at a public library than it is for you to be able to read the latest pulp fiction? It is important to realize that the "content" control we see being born here is comming from the bassest of publishers, and stop the practice before it becomes universal practice. We must also work to make sure we can continue to publish on the internet.

      Exercise your own power and refuse to publish in inferior, non free formats. Creating the financial incentive for hardware makers to respect your interests is just as easy as that. People who buy these new players are going to get burnt when WMA changes two years from now. The makers of those devices are going to get a big black eye from it. Don't you think that part of the tech slowdown comes from user uncertianty created by nothing M$ working right? It hurts to screw up. Meanwhile, my png, ogg mpegs and what not will work the same.

      • I agree with all your points on keeping things free, but my content (physics papers - I use latex and postscript) is not exactly a segment of the market that matters. I don't produce audio or video content of any kind. I wish selecting products/companies were this simple. But the fact of the matter is that consumers rarely vote with their dollar, and marketing muscle determines consumer choice.

        I rarely buy things for myself, but when I do I'm pretty selective and tend to try hard to select products that I agree with. But what am I to do? Stop liking my favorite band? Stop liking Star Wars? Tell my family after they buy me that Farscape DVD that I don't want it because the MPAA is a cartel? Tell my friends that I don't want to see that movie with them because the MPAA is a cartel? At least half the "stuff" I own is not purchased directly by me, but given as gifts, one way or another.

        How do you tell when you go into the music/movie store which DVD's are encrypted? Can you tell which CD's are produced by companies not under the RIAA umbrella? Face it, the segment of the market that tries to make these choices, are the "fanatic fringe" and and we account for <1% of the purchasing power in any market. Why should any company pay attention to us?

        So I try to make careful choices, but 9 times out of 10 I get fucked anyway (the latest was a Logitech Webcam with a 50% "rebate" -- 5 day window to purchase 12/15-12/20 and the rebate has to be postmarked by 1/3/2002 -- now that's a scam, they tricked me into paying twice what the webcam is worth. I won't buy logitech any more). It's an incredible amount of work to keep track of all this shit. And as time goes on the list of companies I won't do business with grows so large that I simply can't purchase certain goods (try buying a soundcard for linux excluding Creative Labs). All of them are out to fuck you. It's just the luck of the draw finding a good one.


        What I think needs to happen is we should create a Consumer Technology Board. These people should represent open source wherever possible, but more importantly they should be at the bargaining table when companies are trying to choose between mp3 and ogg for distributing their content. They should represent open standards, unpatented and non-corporate work, and consumer rights like time-shifting, archival, and library access. They should show up at relevant trials ans work with the EFF and ACLU. They should put out press releases and make a lot of noise when industry cartels try to lock-out or lock-in competitors, and reduce consumer choice. Make exclusive contracts a PR nightmare for those involved. Maybe something like this exists already...if it does they need a kick in the pants.


    • Which OSS philanthropist wants that job?
      More important, how can you sell the OSS format to the media company when they require something with content protection?
    • So why didn't we freak out when MP3 players started supporting WMA in thier flash upgrades? Big Deal(tm).
    • Will someone reverse-engineer the Sorensen codec or write a WMF player for linux?

      Need to smash software patents when they are used to leverage monopolies.

      If can't do that, then let's get a interoperability exemption in patent law. Even DMCA has one (though apparently judges like Kaplan chose to ignore it).

      Patents were intended to protect implementations, but they're being abused to cover whole interfaces. If we can't stop the abuse, then we should do next best thing and make it impotent.

  • by ishark ( 245915 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @11:30AM (#2798310)
    I know you'll never believe this coming from an anti-DMCA type like me, but I kinda like these news. The reason is this: I think that the RIAA/MPAA/whatever are preparing themselves for a VERY harsh wake-up when they find out that Microsoft cares zero-nilch-nada-nothing about their interests. Microsoft's aim is market dominance and experience shows that it can be obtained much more readily by massive availability of stuff and not massive control. I predict that (obviously) the WMP formats will be cracked (didn't it already happen?) and Microsoft will very gladly look the other way while tons of pirated stuff get exchanged in WMP format only playable on Windows or Microsoft-licensed players. They'll invest 5% of the huge profits they make in PR towards the aforementioned RIMPAA, who will actually learn that Microsoft are the very best in security/content protection and whatever other solution will be worse.
    Global result: for the price of a windows license and some gigs of disk the users get unlimited access to (pirated) content. Users are happy. Microsoft is happy. RIAA/MPAA are screwed.
    It'll be fun to watch.....
    • PS, go to DLink [] and check out their MP3 portable CD player; it plays normal CDs and MP3s off of CDs and its quite inexpensive. I'd be thrilled if it supported Ogg Vorbis, WMA and anything else that's available. As long as they keep adding and don't _subtract_ any support, we should all be happy.
  • You Should Not Be Here

  • I don't really _hate_ to say it, but isn't this a bit of "too little, too late"? Everyone who's at least marginally interested has a DVD player already, and I'm not really seeing the huge need by consumers for another DVD player. My parents have one, my friends all have one, my inlaws got one last year, etc, etc. I can't imagine that, by the time these things are available, that it'll be more than a niche thing.

    That being said, give it 10 years. Microsoft might be able to 0wn it, but considering that it's Apex that's looking into it, I think it's more of a "geek enabler" thing than anything else.
  • by joshamania ( 32599 ) <> on Monday January 07, 2002 @11:41AM (#2798364) Homepage
    I've got a Panasonic DVD player that plays MP3's? So, now I can get one that plays WMA too? Big whoop. Do I ever use the MP3 capability? No. Would I ever burn a windows media thingy to disk to watch it on TV in really shitty quality? No.

    This is nothing. What is much bigger is next year when M$ comes out with their supercalifragilistic-Xbox-alidocious homestation. At that point, I figure I need two components. One receiver. One UltimateTV/DirecTV/DVD/Xbox/CD-player/PC.

    Oh, yeah and my Playstation 2 for Grand Theft Auto III.

  • Seattle P-I story on MS's latest move towards having their finger in every slice of the content pie.

    The way the slashdot community fights with Microsoft is funny, and has quite a pattern. D'o whatever it takes' is generally the big picture. It isn't about crappy software lately, because the government saw some monopoly qualities, that's what slashdot looks into heavily. The truth is, most people that use linux exclusively hasn't even tried Win2K, which has yet to crash or bluescreen on me. Netscape on linux, and mozilla on linux crashes more than anything on win2k for me. But I'm talking to closed minds here.

    Its going to be funny when the monopoly talks die down and people start attacking MS's quality to find its stronger than the last time they used it, so their arguements are moot. Sure, XP has bugs (all new OS's do. Try and tell me that Linux 1.0 didn't crash or have bugs.), and X-Box has its share, but it is the first console released under MS's name. But by the time the monopoly craze goes away, I think you'll be surprised at where MS will be.
  • by BigJimSlade ( 139096 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:06PM (#2798500) Homepage
    Geek propaganda engine Slashdot posts it's 3,651st duplicate story []. Come on guys, it's a new year... isn't there anything new to talk about yet?
  • by underclocked ( 71050 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:08PM (#2798517) Journal
    Why is it that every CD/DVD player that supports *.mp3 or *.ogg is celebrated because but every player that will now support *.wmf is flamed. Let's face it, there is demand for *.wmf support, so why would manufacturers not support it.

    Why not have players that support many different formats. How about a convercence box that will play divx, dvd, mp3, quicktime, ogg, and wmf.
    • One reason I dislike the idea is that although it was claimed licensing fees were supposed to be low (according to Microsoft... so who knows), manufacturer has to pay something. And personally I'd be happy not to (indirectly) pay for support I don't need.

      Now, since I agree that there are people who may want the support, it would be good if this support was optional; a plug-in could be bought. Same could be done for other formats too; if I had to pay for ogg-support, I would (as long as it's reasonable)

  • by LordNimon ( 85072 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:47PM (#2798741)
    Considering how poorly most DVD players support MP3 CDs, maybe this will be a good thing. We all know how militant Microsoft is about support their feature set fully. I've never seen a DVD player that supports long file names, let alone ID3 tags. Perhaps when Microsoft forces hardware manufacturers to support the WMA format fully, they'll finally write the microcode to display full song information.
  • I didn't bother to read all of the messages here but it looks like a lot of knee jerking going on...

    Microsoft is still trying to compete with mp3. mp3 is ubiquitous, from freely available rippers to file sharing networks to portable players to home audio equipment to car stereos, you can now obtain, burn and listen to mp3s anywhere. Why should Joe Schmoe use WMA instead of mp3 when WMA is not supported on the home/car/portable players?

    Availability is the biggest immediate hurdle WMA faces if Microsoft is to get the labels on board to use their format. Then we can see if the masses take to jumping through expected DRM hoops.
  • I don't have enough moderator points to mod down everyone who has said something stupid so far, so I'll post instead.

    1. To all the people who are complaining that WMA is a proprietary format: So is DVD.

    2. To the people who say no consumer would want this: go to a store and look at how many portable devices there are now that play MP3 and/or WMA files. As a consumer, I'd be quite pleased if the CDs I burn for my RioVolt would play in my home CD or DVD player. WMA is a better format than MP3, in both quality and space taken. Of course consumers will want it.

    3. To the people pointing out that WMA supports rights management: duh!

  • The key players IMHO.

    Sony, Pioneer, Kenwood. These are the crem de la crem of Home Audio gear (well, the stuff that doesn't require a 5 digit loan before the decimal) and their names weren't listed.

    Just the lower end stuff was. Apex, Panasonic, Toshiba.

    I can't imagine the MPAA and RIAA wanting Microsoft to get into their camp. Unless they're thinking they'll help secure up so people can copy it.

    They must not have looked at the Windows XP copy protection scheme.

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta