Microsoft sinks $15m into Web media firm Akamai

Microsoft is make a $US15 million investment in Akamai Technologies, the company contracted by Apple Computer to provide Internet distribution for its QuickTime TV content. Akamai in turn will add Windows support to its products.

Microsoft is make a $US15 million investment in Internet services firm Akamai Technologies, the company contracted by Apple Computer to provide distribution services for its QuickTime TV content. Akamai in turn will add support for Microsoft's Windows software in its Web content distribution system.

Microsoft's investment will give it a stake of about 1% in Akamai. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup has garnered plenty of attention of late -- data networking firm Cisco Systems invested $49 million in the company earlier this year, while Apple invested $12.5 million.

Akamai offers a service called FreeFlow to companies that operate large Web sites. The service is designed to speed the delivery of Web content to end users, and makes use of Akamai's network of more than 900 servers located in 15 countries.

Akamai will integrate support for Microsoft's Windows media technologies into FreeFlow, meaning its customers will be able to distribute video, audio and other multimedia content using Microsoft's streaming media format, an Akamai spokesman said.

Akamai will also port its FreeFlow software to Microsoft's server operating systems including Windows NT. Akamai's existing server software runs on Linux, the Akamai spokesman said. Linux is a Unix-like operating system that has emerged as a potential competitor to Windows.

Microsoft also said that its Streaming Media Division has agreed to purchase content delivery services from Akamai. The services will be used to accelerate distribution of Microsoft's own content with the goal of providing a better end user experience for its customers.

The overall goal of the alliance is to accelerate the growth of the digital media market, Microsoft said.

Akamai filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission in August indicating plans to go public.

Akamai can be reached at +1-617-250-3000 or at http://www.akamai.com. Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or at http://www.microsoft.com.

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