Microsoft, Matsushita try for Digital Video on PC

Microsoft and Panasonic will jointly promote easy-to-use, cost-effective digital video capture, editing and playback on the PC, the companies have announced. Matsushita, which makes digital video cameras, will develop a codec to support Microsoft's DirectX media API. The agreement is seen as a move onto the turf of Apple's QuickTime technology - but it may not be enough.

Microsoft and Panasonic will jointly promote easy-to-use, cost-effective digital video capture, editing and playback on the PC, the companies have announced.

Panasonic brand name owner, Matsushita, will develop a Digital Video software codec, a program for compressing and decompressing files, that will support Microsoft's DirectX media standard for the PC.

Apple Computer is currently the leading low-end digital video platform for capture, editing and playback, both in the home with its QuickTime software and in the film industry with support from editing vendors such as Avid Technologies Inc. Having Matsushita develop a proprietary codec may not have the impact Microsoft is hoping for, given that QuickTime is codec-independent and can be configured to hook into any form of compression.

The Microsoft and Matsushita agreement is designed to enable users to capture video from standard Digital Video cameras and manipulate the content using low-cost video editing and special effects software. It is unclear whether Matsushita will support Apple's FireWire, a video input/output technology which has won approval as a specification by the IEEE international standards committee, as the 1394 specification, and has been endorsed by professional users.

Microsoft's DirectX media services is part of the company's unified multimedia API (application programming interface) strategy announced last week. DirectX is designed to make it easy for developers to integrate and stream video, audio , 3-D animation and other media types on the Windows platform.

QuickTime 3.0, which for the first time brings full its functionality - synchronised video, multiple audio and text tracks, editable MPEG video, VR, 3D, Sprite animation and MIDI - to the Windows as well as Mac platform, is due within the next two months.

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