QuickTime 3.0 offers workstation-strength image processing on ordinary desktops

QuickTime, Apple's big-ticket multimedia architecture will make a big stride soon, when QuickTime 3.0 is released - giving both Mac and Windows users playback support for AVI files, software MPEG playback, a level of real-time image processing previously only available on Unix workstations and a standard format for video effects.

In an exclusive interview with Macworld, Apple Computer Inc.'s QuickTime product manager, Ralph Rogers, described features users can expect in QuickTime 3.0, the forthcoming version of Apple's multimedia system software slated for release in the second quarter.

Some of the features were also previewed during a presentation by Apple CEO Gil Amelio at the recent Macworld Expo Tokyo show.

QuickTime 3.0, which will be available for Macintosh and Windows, will feature a new architecture that provides a standard format for video effects. As a result, third-party vendors will be able to provide special effects that work within any digital video package that supports QuickTime, Rogers said.

The video effects architecture will also allow for real-time image-processing operations previously available on Unix workstations, Rogers said. For example, during the preview in Tokyo, an Apple engineer caused an image of water to ripple with the click of a mouse.

Other new features include progressive downloading of QuickTime VR panoramas and improved integration with Windows files. Users will be able to run a Video for Windows (AVI) movie as if it were a QuickTime movie, with the option to convert the movie to QuickTime or keep it in the AVI format.

The Windows version of QuickTime 3.0 will also support the QuickTime music architecture and software-only playback of MPEG video, two features already available for the Macintosh.

QuickTime 3.0 has its origins in Apple's announcement last September of QuickTime 2.5 for Windows. At the time, Rogers said, Apple's goal was to offer a Windows version of QuickTime that was equivalent to QuickTime 2.5 for the Macintosh. Apple also went with a common source code base for the Macintosh and Windows versions to facilitate faster cross-platform development.

As QuickTime 2.5 for Windows evolved, Apple engineers kept adding new features that went beyond what's available in QuickTime 2.5 for the Mac, Rogers said. Apple then decided to release a full upgrade for both platforms instead of QuickTime 2.5 for Windows.

From now on, Rogers said, versions of QuickTime for the Mac and Windows will be released within a few weeks of each other.

Further details on QuickTime 3.0 will be available when Apple formally announces the software later in March.

Apple Computer can be reached at http://www.apple.com/.

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