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CNN Today

Microsoft the Underdog in Streaming Media Technology

Aired May 25, 2000 - 2:34 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: One of the few major areas of the computer business where Microsoft is the underdog is a technology called streaming media. In plain English, that amounts to watching movies and hearing music clips on your computer.

We get more from CNN's Ann Kellan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's a growing area of computing where Microsoft is the decided underdog, but for how long? The product in question is software you need so you can point and click to deliver a movie right to your computer screen, and listen to music, or even stroll through this online store.

To do any of this, you need to download software. Certain versions are free and easy to use. The companies make money by delivering the content. The most popular one is Real Networks' RealPlayer. Microsoft's Media Player is a distant second and is included or bundled with Microsoft's consumer operating system.

And while each claim their product has better video and audio quality and is easier to use, analyst Clay Ryder says the products are similar.

CLAY RYDER, ZONA RESEARCH: The reality is, both players are doing very well and they both have very high-fidelity technology.

KELLAN: But Real Networks has the edge over Microsoft as far as the amount of programming it offers. For example, Rich FX (ph) that provides that online shopping experience is best seen on RealPlayer.

JEFF PANCOTTINE, REAL NETWORKS: To see 85 percent of the content in streaming media on the Internet, people have to use RealPlayers.

KELLAN: But Microsoft's clout is hard to ignore. BroadcastAmerica, which provides a huge amount of TV and radio programming on the Internet, once exclusive to RealPlayer, is now broadcasting on Media Player too.

JOHN BRIER, BROADCASTAMERICA.COM: The more that Windows Media Player is able to get itself distributed and populated throughout the world, the more content partners they'll find that want to broadcast their content. KELLAN: But RealPlayer may have another edge: Since more and more people will want to watch a movie or listen to music on the run using portable, hand-held devices like these, RealPlayer can run on all types of machines, where Media Player only works on products using a Microsoft operating system. And even though Microsoft continues to introduce new portable devices, it is, again, not the dominating system.

So analysts predict that Microsoft will gain on Real Networks, both are likely to survive.

Ann Kellan, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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