SGI proposal chosen for VRML 2.0 standard

The widely backed Moving Worlds proposal from Silicon Graphics has been chosen as the specification

for virtual reality modeling language (VRML) 2.0, the standard for transmitting 3D graphics on the World

Wide Web, SGI has announced.

The few companies that pitched rival proposals, including Sun, IBM Japan and the

German Dynamic Research Centre for Information Technology in Sankt Augustin, either joined the Moving

Worlds bandwagon before the final decision was made or were expected to support it eventually.

Microsoft was the only holdout, and it is hanging onto the promise of its Active VRML technology.

"We're in a very good position because our friends in Redmond do not have a 3D file format, so

Microsoft is left out in the cold," says source close to Apple Computer.

Apple had submitted its own proposal initially, but then agreed to join the Moving Worlds contingent when

SGI decided to incorporate in its proposal a modified version of Apple's 3D MF (Meta File) as the format for

transferring binary files. The 3D MF format enables developers to convert their 3D documents and

environments to other programs or platforms, such as Unix, Windows, or MacOS.

But a Microsoft spokesman objects to the portrayal of Microsoft as losing out to Moving Worlds. "It wasn't

to target VRML 2.0 that we did Active VRML," says Paul Osborne, director of multimedia for Microsoft's

Internet platform and tools division.

While Microsoft will support VRML 2.0, the company also plans to go forward with Active VRML as a

product, according to Osborne.

"If people start creating content for Moving Worlds, we will certainly support that content in our Internet

Explorer and Internet products," he said. "Moving Worlds doesn't exist. There's no content," Osborne

says, noting that Microsoft has Active VRML content on its Web site and has distributed run-time

engines in source code and alpha kits. "And I've not seen anything yet from Moving Worlds."

VRML 2.0 is designed to speed the performance of programs, add multimedia support, and offer other

enhancements, such as allowing objects to be programmed to move around and enabling users to interact

more with the environment rather than merely viewing it. Moving Worlds incorporates Sun's Java

object-oriented programming environment and adds behaviors, animation, sensors, and sound to the VRML

feature set.

Primarily used in games now, 3D applications are expected to expand into corporate environments for use in

spreadsheets, data mining, and advanced interfaces.

SGI is at http://www.sgi.com/.

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