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July 15, 2002—In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Microsoft Announces Windows Media 9 Series
- Microsoft to Exit Mac Market If Sales Continue to Lag
- Register Today for Our Win2K Migration Web Seminar!
- Enter the Windows & .NET Magazine/Transcender Sweepstakes
3. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
As reported exclusively this weekend on the WinInformant Web site, Microsoft announced today that it will market its next-generation digital-media technology, code-named Corona, as Windows Media 9 Series. The software suite will include new versions of Windows Media Player (WMP), the Windows Media Audio and Video codecs, Windows Media Encoder, and a new Windows Media software development kit (SDK). Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates will unveil the public beta release of the components on September 4 at a launch event in Los Angeles, the company says.
"Digital media has the potential to redefine the possibilities for new experiences and services over the Internet, in the living room, and in companies around the world," said Will Poole, vice president of the Windows Digital Media Division. "Windows Media 9 Series is designed to deliver the major step forward in functionality and performance the industry needs to realize this potential."
In addition to the software components that make up the Windows Media 9 Series suite, Microsoft also announced that consumer electronics giant Pioneer will support the technology in its upcoming line of Digital Network Entertainment products. The Pioneer line will include playback support for the Windows Media Video (WMV) format, letting users dramatically increase the amount of video content they can store per disk, at little or no discernible loss in quality. Also, users can network the Digital Network Entertainment products to their PCs to access the video content stored on those machines. "Pioneer chose to support Windows Media 9 Series audio and video technology because it clearly demonstrates a shared commitment to create and offer innovative, high-quality home entertainment experiences to consumers," said Bob Niimi, senior vice president of business development for Pioneer's Home Entertainment Division.
For more information about the Windows Media 9 Series, visit the SuperSite for Windows.
On the eve of Apple Computer's semiannual MacWorld event, Microsoft dropped a bombshell on the company: Work harder to accelerate Mac OS X sales or Microsoft will exit the Mac market forever. Many Mac developers share this sentiment; Mac OS X has not sold well, as reported recently in WinInfo Daily UPDATE. Currently, Apple estimates that as few as 1 to 2 million people have switched to its most recent OS, despite the fact that OS X has shipped for free on several million computers. But a more telling figure from Microsoft might put things in perspective: Sales of Microsoft's OS X-specific Office version, Office v. X, have been just 300,000 units since the suite went on sale last year. Microsoft had expected to sell more than 750,000 copies in the first year.
"There hasn't been a concerted effort \[on Apple's part\] to promote Mac OS X, even though the opportunity is there and our willingness is there," said Kevin Browne, who runs Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit (MBU). Browne said that his company is committed to developing one more Office version for the Mac but will exit the market if that version also sells poorly. "\[After the next version,\] it's harder to predict," he said. "If things don't dramatically turn around, we'll be evaluating this business with Apple."
Recently, Apple launched a "Switch" ad campaign aimed at garnering new Mac OS X users from the Windows camp. But Microsoft—and, tellingly, many other Mac OS developers—say Apple would be better off moving its existing users to Mac OS X first. For example, Corel launched seven OS X-specific applications earlier this year, citing the "great opportunity." But Corel says that its customer feedback corroborates Microsoft's experience: Mac users just haven't switched to Mac OS X yet. A Corel representative described Apple's response to its concerns as "muted."
Predictably, Apple blames Microsoft for the Office v. X sales problems. Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, told The Wall Street Journal that "Microsoft's anxieties about OS X's progress are very, very misplaced" and that the company should "look inward." Schiller says that the price of Office v. X—about $400—is too expensive, although Microsoft heavily advertised steep discounts to existing Mac Office users when the company launched Office v. X. Schiller is also upbeat about OS X's prospects, stating that the number of users making the switch to the new system will hit a "steep climb" later this year. The company expects about 5 million people to be using OS X by year's end.
Schiller and Apple had better be right. If Microsoft and other major software developers bail from the OS X bandwagon, the fledgling platform might not survive, let alone flourish.
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