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Microsoft, Apple Target Broadcasters

New products range from desktop tools for video production to high-definition broadcasting.

Microsoft on Monday gave a progress report on how its Windows Media 9 Series technology is being adopted increasingly by broadcast companies, video production professionals, and filmmakers.

Cablevision Systems Corp.'s satellite services division, Rainbow DBS, is among the companies using the Microsoft technology to deliver high-definition programming, Microsoft said at the National Association of Broadcasters' conference in Las Vegas. Rainbow DBS's satellite service, called Voom, plans to use Windows Media 9 Series technology as one of the ways it expands its high-definition satellite capacity from 30 to more than 60 channels.

Content providers using the Microsoft technology include Akimbo Systems and U.S. Digital Television. Vendors targeting the broadcast market with Windows Media 9 Series built into their products include Harmonic, Pathfire, Stradis, and the Shanghai Broadcasting Lab and New Auto Group.

In addition, a growing number of companies are creating video-production tools that run on Windows XP. Boxx Technologies, for example, in partnership with Adobe Systems and CineForm, is offering video-editing products for Windows XP that support the high-definition serial digital interface (HD-SDI).

Apple Computer also rolled out new products at the NAB convention. The company introduced a storage area network file system called Xsan aimed at video-editing companies that need to share large files among groups of users. The software is priced at $999 per connected computer, which Apple says undercuts the prices of file systems from Avid Technology, IBM, and Silicon Graphics. Xsan lets up to 64 Mac desktops and servers running Apple's Mac OS X operating system link up directly to Apple's Xserve RAID storage system using high-speed Fibre Channel connections.

Apple and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic audiovisual products, also said Monday that they plan to develop a low-priced video-editing system for TV broadcasts.

"Both Microsoft and Apple are trying to gain ground in the same market space, but their means are different," says Joe Wilcox, a senior analyst with Jupiter Research. "Apple is building the tools and supporting open-standard formats, whereas Microsoft creates platforms that other companies build on top of, bundling Windows Media Player into a style format--Windows XP."

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