Microsoft Details Vista's Media Features

Microsoft on Monday detailed innovations coming in Windows Vista that the company believes makes the operating system superior in the delivery of multimedia. This would include several enhancements to Windows Media itself as well as expanded functionality within Windows Media Center, now standard in Vista.

The company is promoting the new features of its upcoming operating system at the National Association of Broadcasters convention being held this week in Las Vegas. With online multimedia becoming more prevalent, traditional broadcasters are increasingly interesting in utilizing the Internet as a method for delivery.

"With Windows Vista, we went back to the drawing board to create a premier platform for audio and video," Windows Digital Media Division corporate vice president Amir Majidimehr said.

Improvements to playback of media include glitch resilience, which will ensure that audio and video applications will receive processor priority during playback. The company has also made enhancements to the playback of audio. For example, each application's volume can be set separately, rather than the universal setting of previous operating systems.

In addition, device roles will be introduced. Initially, peripherals will be grouped into three categories: general, music and movies, and communication.

This would allow for applications to route sound through a specific device:; for example, music could play through the computers speakers, while e-mail alert chimes sound in a headset. Additionally, enhancements to the digital audio processing will allow for higher fidelity audio.

On the Windows Media Center side, Vista will introduce the Windows Media Center Presentation Layer. This feature will allow developers to easily create applications that can take advantage of the "ten-foot interface," as well as match the look and feel of Windows Media Center. WinFX support will also allow for further visual enhancement of these applications.

To demonstrate this functionality, Microsoft is showing NAB attendees an application created by Showtime Networks. The prototype is an interactive television channel for its award-winning series "Weeds."

"Whether you are a music producer, post-production house or television studio, you will find that Windows Vista is an incredibly powerful tool for the future of content creation, delivery and playback," Microsoft's Majidimehr said.

Vista is expected to be completed in late 2006 and released publicly in early 2007.

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