Gates debuts software as part of entertainment push

The Associated Press
Thursday September 05, 2002

LOS ANGELES — Bill Gates introduced Microsoft’s newest multimedia software in Hollywood on Wednesday, promoting his company’s bid to make its technology central to tomorrow’s digital home entertainment center. 

The Microsoft chairman took the wraps off a preliminary version of Windows Media 9, whose technical improvements make online video look more like television and boost audio quality. 

The launch is the latest salvo in an intensifying battle for control of the market for multimedia players, software that runs and organizes entertainment files on consumer PCs. 

The upgraded product represents Microsoft’s latest attempt to win the support of the entertainment industry and dethrone Seattle-based RealNetworks as the leading provider of media player software. 

RealNetworks held a slim lead in the market with 30.8 million home users in June, compared with 30.1 million home users of Microsoft players, according to the research firm comScore Media Metrix. The numbers do not include media players embedded in Web browsers. 

“This is a hugely significant release, but it’s not game over yet for anyone,” said Michael Gartenberg, research director of Jupiter Research in New York. “RealNetworks is not going home.” 

Rob Glaser, chief executive of RealNetworks, said in an interview that Microsoft multimedia software is “emotionally unsatisfying” because it only plays content designed for the Windows standard.