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MS Windows Media Technologies Features

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Superior Audio Quality Superior Audio Quality
Windows Media Rights Manager Windows Media Rights Manager
Pay-Per-View Wizard Pay-Per-View Wizard
Intelligent Streaming Intelligent Streaming
Advanced Compression Technologies Advanced Compression Technologies
PowerPoint 2000 Integration PowerPoint 2000 Integration
Easy Internet Radio Distribution Easy Internet Radio Distribution

Superior Audio Quality

The Internet is rapidly becoming an effective forum for distributing music to consumers. Whether the music is streamed real-time off a Web site or downloaded for playback later, audio quality is key to the end-user experience. Until now, Internet audio has meant lower quality sound. No longer. Windows MediaTM Technologies 4.0 offers incredible audio quality that is dramatically better than competing Internet technologies.

Streaming Media

Windows Media Technologies 4.0 has great benefits for the radio and music industries. Thanks to Microsoft's new audio compression technology, code-named MSAudio, for the first time ever radio stations can broadcast live over the Internet at FM-stereo quality to listeners with 28.8 kilobit per second (Kbps) modems. Entertainment and commerce sites can offer music samples with awesome playback quality for their audiences -- which will in turn drive more purchases.

Download and Play

Windows Media Technologies 4.0 can also produce files for downloading over the Internet that are extremely high quality and half the size of equivalent-quality MP3 files, the popular downloadable audio file format. Listeners can enjoy the same quality music as MP3 offers, but the download takes half the time. And by taking advantage of the new Windows Media Rights Manager, music artists, publishers, and distributors can control the distribution of their content, reducing unauthorized use of their original work.

Majority of Listeners Prefer Windows Media

Sounds too good to be true? Well, the National Software Testing Laboratories (NSTL), undertook consumer research involving more than 75 participants, and the results are decisive. When comparing streaming audio at 28.8 and 56.6 Kbps modem data rates, 4 out of 5 listeners preferred Windows Media over Real's G2. And in a test comparing downloaded Windows Media files to MP3 files that were twice as large, 3 out of 4 listeners either preferred Windows Media or could not differentiate between Windows Media files and the larger, slower-downloading MP3 files. Find out more about the results of this independent study at NSTL (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/compare/AudioCompare.aspx).

Hear It Yourself

Don't take our word for it -- try it yourself. All you need to try the taste test yourself is the Windows Media Player (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp). If you already have the Windows Media Player, your player will automatically install the MS Audio codec and play the audio.

Create Great Quality Audio

Want to create high fidelity audio yourself? It's easy. Just download the new Windows Media Tools (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/). The familiar Windows Media Encoder now includes the MS Audio codec, and the other great content creation and web production tools will help you develop the Web pages to show off your audio.

Windows Media Rights Manager

Vast improvements in streaming technology have made high-quality audio a reality on the Web. That reality created one of the hottest trends on the Internet – downloading licensed, and in many cases, unlicensed audio material from the Internet. Microsoft, along with most of the software industry, has fought battles with piracy for many years, gaining a deep understanding of the damage that seemingly harmless copying can do to artists and corporations alike. With the new Windows MediaTM Rights Manager in Windows Media Technologies 4.0, content providers can use license registration to stay connected to their customers or charge for digital content.

How Windows Media Rights Manager Works

Windows Media Rights Manager, a digital rights management (DRM) application, lets content authors deliver songs, videos, and other media over the Internet in a packaged, encrypted file format. Windows Media Rights Manager consists of the Windows Media Packager and the Windows Media License Manager. Windows Media Rights Packager packages and encrypts media files by locking them with a "key". End users need a separate license containing the key to play a packaged media file with the Windows Media Player. Media files and licenses are stored separately, making it easier to manage the entire system.

To package and encrypt content, content providers must send standard streaming and downloadable media files (ASF, WAV, AVI, and others) through the Windows Media Packager application. Windows Media Packager also handles creation and management of Web sites, publishing of media files to the Windows Media Server, and tracking Web site usage statistics. The Windows Media Rights Manager server creates and manages pages on the Web site, issues licenses to registered consumers, and stores information about media files, licenses, and registered consumers. These server components operate on a separate computer running a Microsoft® SQL Server™ 7.0 database.

Advantages for Content Providers

With Windows Media Rights Manager, retailers and record labels can set up Internet music stores to distribute media files and gather customer information. Record labels can generate interest in new bands by offering songs for free download. Without jeopardizing copyright, companies can gather extremely targeted customer information. Unsigned garage bands might upload and market directly to fans using Windows Media Rights Management technology.

Playing Packaged Encrypted Files

Consumers need Microsoft Windows Media Player version 6.2 to play the packaged media files. When users try to play a media file but don't have the correct version installed, the player automatically directs them to download the free Windows Media Player upgrade.

Once downloaded, Windows Media Player 6.2 checks to see if the consumer has a license to play the media file. Consumers who do not have a valid license are directed to the license registration page on the content provider's Web site. Content providers can charge money or ask for information before issuing a license. Many sites now request an e-mail address in exchange for clip licenses. Music companies can then use this e-mail address to keep the fan up to date on concert schedules and new CD releases, or to market related merchandise.

Once a user registers or pays, they can then play the downloaded media file without connecting to the Internet. If an expiration date is used with the license, the content will play until the expiration date is reached. Consumers can freely distribute the media files, through email or on Web sites. But because licenses are unique to each user and cannot be shared or copied, each consumer must acquire a license to play media files.

How Secure is the Encrypted Content?

Windows Media Technologies uses one of the strongest DRM encryption schemes now available. Every file is stored in an encrypted format unique to each PC, which makes it extremely difficult to break the license protection or copy the file.

The Windows Media Technologies encryption scheme would take days of supercomputer time to decode. To further raise the protection level, a content owner can change the content encryption keys daily, or even every few hours. When the consumer downloads a content encryption key to play encrypted content, the key is sent to the consumer's computer with a strong public key encryption. When stored with this type of protection, a content encryption key can only be used to play content on the computer to which it was downloaded. This PC-by-PC encryption scheme protects consumers from inadvertently pirating a file. It also acts as a deterrent to intentional piracy.

When the content is playing, an advanced software scheme nonintrusively binds the content to the consumer's computer. With the current level of protection, a sufficiently dedicated hacker could discover the way to divert unencrypted content to another file on that machine. As future versions of the Windows Media Player are introduced, this will be prevented. So, while the current protection scheme cannot prevent the theft of a file, it does raise the barrier significantly. It narrows the instances of piracy to those of malicious intent and removes a great deal of the ambiguity about copyright protection for copyright owners.

Getting Started

Taking advantage of this new digital rights management technology is easy. Windows Media Rights Manager and the accompanying documentation are packaged with Windows Media Services, available for download here ( http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/ ). Once the server and components are installed, companies can follow the detailed documentation to develop a Web site and tailor the licensing process to fit their specific needs. And the Windows Media Technologies pay-per-view capabilities ( http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download ) make it easy to develop a commerce solution around these digitally-packaged encrypted files.

Pay-Per-View Wizard

Pay-per-view events, especially sporting events, have proven an excellent source of revenue for the cable industry. However, the potential audience for these events is limited to cable customers who subscribe to a certain level of service. The global reach of the Internet makes the potential audience for such events much, much greater. As Internet audio and video capabilities have improved and user comfort with online commerce has increased, the opportunity for viable online pay-per-view has arrived.

Pay-per-view capabilities are built into both Windows MediaTM Player and Windows Media Services, the client and server components of Windows Media Technologies. Content providers can create an end-to-end pay-per-view solution by combining Microsoft® Site Server Commerce Edition with Windows Media Services, which includes a new pay-per-view wizard that simplifies the development process.

Making Pay-Per-View Easier and Less Expensive

Typically, companies hire outside consulting agencies to set up pay-per-view services. The combined cost of consultants, hardware and software can run as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars. High start-up costs have prevented many smaller firms from going online in the past. Microsoft has solved this problem with its new do-it-yourself pay-per-view wizard.

The wizard will guide content providers through the pay-per-view development process by simply asking a series of questions. The wizard, which is free, eliminates all consulting costs and allows small businesses and ISPs to quickly take advantage of new revenue opportunities on the Internet.

Creating Online Pay-Per-View Transactions

Encoding material for pay-per-view services is no different than producing free streaming media. Windows Media Encoder can be used to convert files into ASF format and send a live feed or a pre-recorded file to a server equipped with Windows Media Services. To create a pay-per-view event, developers must set up a pay-per-view solution. The minimum set-up includes:

  • A database server (Microsoft SQL Server™ 7.0)

  • A server running Windows Media Services

  • Web server used exclusively for pay-per-view pages

How Online Pay-Per-View Transactions Work

When viewers request a pay-per-view page, the Web server prompts them for a user name and password. If valid information is entered, the server displays the pay-per-view page. If the information is invalid, the server again prompts the viewer for a user name and password and offers a link to the registration page established for the pay-per-view event.

When users click on the link, they go to the registration portion of the site, where they must provide a valid credit card number and the usual billing information. Site Server Commerce Edition handles online credit card authorizations automatically. Once approved, the server gives them a user name and password. They can then return to the events page and enter the site. Once inside, the user only needs a Web browser and Windows Media Player.

Pay-Per-View Commerce Opportunities

The potential applications for online pay-per-view are limited only by the content available. Live sporting events and concerts, the two basic staples of cable-based pay-per-view, can now be streamed to millions of paying customers via the Internet. This is just the beginning, however. Content providers can also replay recent pay-per-events on a "second-chance" basis, or dig into the archives for "classic" events such as the Ali "Rumble In the Jungle" fight.

Other content might include syndicated radio or television programming that is not available on a wide basis, or material developed specifically for streaming on the Web. Non-traditional pay-per-view providers will also find tremendous opportunities online. For example, a radio station that has been around for decades might have 40 years' worth of interviews only heard in the local market. Imagine finding an interview with a then unknown Elvis Presley – this is material that can be turned into pay-per-view gold on the Internet.

Getting Started

With the introduction of Windows Media Services 4.0 and the soon-to-be-released pay-per-view wizard, both large and small firms can now afford to sell their material online. Windows Media Services already provides great pay-per-view capabilities. To get started creating a pay-per-view application, download Windows Media Services ( http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/playsforsure/default.aspx ).

Intelligent Streaming

Today's Internet connections are highly variable. The amount of actual data transmitted for any specific connection can vary wildly depending on network conditions. Today's Internet audience has a whole range of possible connection speeds to choose from. A user with a laptop may connect with 300 kilobit per second (Kbps) DSL connection at home, a 10 megabit per second (Mbps) Ethernet LAN connection at work, and a 56.6 Kbps modem connection while travelling on business. In low-bandwidth modem connections, the actual connection speed may be less than half of the maximum, depending on network and Internet Service Provider (ISP) congestion.

The Intelligent Streaming features in Windows MediaTM Technologies ensure that users will receive the highest quality media possible regardless of Internet connection speed or network congestion problems. Because Windows Media Technologies is a connected, end-to-end, client-server system, the server, Windows Media Services, and the client, Windows Media Player, can "talk to each other." By communicating before and during file transmission they can establish actual network throughput and make necessary adjustments to the stream to maximize quality.

Intelligent Streaming offers dramatic benefits to the end user. First, it makes full use of any available bandwidth. DSL or LAN users will receive content designed for their connection speed, without having to select it. And modem-connected users will immediately notice smoother, less jerky, and generally higher quality audio and video.

How does Intelligent Streaming work?

Intelligent Streaming, first introduced in version 3.0, has been significantly upgraded in Windows Media Technologies 4.0. Both Windows Media Services and Windows Media Player have new features to detect network connection speeds, adjust to changing network conditions, and automatically improve video stream quality on the fly.

  1. Multi-Bit-Rate Streams. With Windows Media Technologies version 4.0, content providers can offer as many as five different bit rates for both on-demand and live streams in a single Advanced Streaming Format (ASF) file. When Windows Media Services and Windows Media Player connect, they automatically determine the available bandwidth. The server then selects and serves the appropriate video stream. If the available bandwidth changes during a transmission, the server will automatically detect this and switch to a stream with a higher or lower bit rate.

    Intelligent Transmission. Traditionally, network congestion has forced the client to stop playback and rebuffer in order to continue playing. With Windows Media Technologies 4.0, the client and server can now intelligently degrade quality to preserve continuous playback. This is how it works:

    • First, the server decreases the video frame rate to maintain audio quality and keep buffering to a minimum.

    • If conditions worsen, the server stops sending video frames completely, but maintains audio quality.

    • Finally, if audio quality starts to degrade, the client intelligently reconstructs portions of the stream to preserve quality.

  2. Video Playback Enchancement Filter. When receiving a video stream, Windows Media Player uses new intelligent filtering to smooth blockiness and remove ghosting, significantly improving overall video quality, especially at low bandwidths.

Authoring Content for Intelligent Streaming

The new Windows Media Encoder makes creating Intelligent Streaming content easy. Content authors can simply select a pre-supplied multi-bit-rate template during on-demand or live production, and the Windows Media Encoder will automatically create the multi-bit-rate stream. For greater control, the author can manually select the exact bit-rates for each of the five encoded streams. The insurance stream, client post-processing, and intelligent degradation are all automatic on-the-fly features that require no author-time work. And, best of all, now authors only need to create and manage a single file to handle multiple bit-rates. For more on authoring content for Intelligent Streaming, go to ( http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/imedia/windowsmedia/CrContent/IntStreaming.asp ).

Advanced Compression Technologies

Competition for viewers is intense in today's digital media market. To produce a compelling online experience that keeps audiences coming back for more, Internet content developers want to create the best quality audio and video. At the same time, developers need to move fast to get digital media content on the Web and keep it fresh. How can they get high quality content out the door fast and still save money? With the advanced compression technologies of the Windows MediaTM Technologies 4.0 codecs. To understand how, we first need to know what codecs are, how they are used, and what's so special about the codecs in Windows Media Technologies 4.0.

Why Codecs?

The Internet is a mammoth data network. The end user clicks a link to request data, and the data is then delivered and displayed as Web pages containing text and images. These files are small enough to travel quickly across the limited bandwidth of the Internet.

Content providers that want to send audio or video in addition to Web pages and graphics face a problem: file size. To transmit uncompressed, broadcast quality video requires 160 Megabits per second (Mbps) of network bandwidth. Uncompressed, CD-quality audio requires around 2.8 Mbps. Since most Internet users connect at speeds of only 28.8 Kilobits per second (Kbps), a connection 5,000 times slower than video requires compressed content. Codecs (compressor/decompressors) are the software modules that perform this compression. Codecs are typically optimized for compressing either audio or video, and there are many different compression algorithms available for each type of media. Compressing content results in some of the original data being lost, to gain the needed efficiencies in data transmission. There is a trade-off between maintaining high quality content and achieving low data compression rates.

Windows Media Technologies codecs are highly optimized for both high quality compression and low data rates, unlike many competing codecs available on the market. This means that the end user hears crisp, CD-quality sound and sees clear, smooth video even when experienced over slow Internet connections.

Who Uses Codecs?

Content developers use codecs to compress (or encode) audio and video for real-time or local playback over the Internet and corporate intranets. End users don't need to know anything about codecs to play digital media content with the Windows Media Player; they just click on a link to the content and it plays.

Windows Media Technologies 4.0 Codecs

Windows Media Technologies 4.0 has three codecs that were specifically designed for encoding music, video, and voice content. These have the best quality, highest frequency range and fastest encoding speed of any codecs available on the market today. Content developers can create amazing audio and video experiences for their end users with Windows Media Technologies 4.0 codecs, while saving time and money by encoding that content quickly. These are the codecs included with Windows Media Technologies 4.0:

Music Codec: MS Audio

  • Produces near FM-radio quality with 28.8 Kbps modems and near CD-quality at 64 Kbps.

  • Offers two to four times the frequency range of other codecs, preserving more of the original signal to give end users better audio.

  • Offers a very wide bit-rate range (5 Kbps to 128 Kbps) with an 8 Kilohertz (Khz) to 48 Khz sampling rate, in both mono and stereo.

  • Provides the fastest encoding speed with the highest quality for music, for both real-time and stored content. For example, a four-minute song will encode in as little as 20 seconds for 128 Kbps, 44 Khz stereo.

  • Multi-threaded architecture increases encoding performance when using more than one processor. Dual-processor systems encode at nearly twice the speed as single-processor systems.

  • Optimized for Pentium II (MMX) and Pentium III (SSE/SIMD) multimedia implementations.

  • Developed by Microsoft.

Video Codec: MPEG-4 v3

  • Specifically designed to deal with high compression ratios for distribution of video over low bandwidth networks while still providing excellent quality at higher bit rates.

  • Offers wide range of bit rates from as low as 10 Kbps for modem users to 10 Mbps for true broadcast quality.

  • Provides the super-fast encoding with the highest video quality, for both real-time and on-demand content.

  • Optimized for Pentium II (MMX), Pentium III (SSE/SIMD) and Alpha MVI multimedia implementations.

  • Multi-threaded encoder scales up to four processors. On a dual PIII 550Mhz Xeon machine with no hardware assistance, the encoder can real-time encode up to a 640x480 frame size at 25 frames per second.

  • Decoder has post-processors that reduce picture artifacts like blockiness, greatly improving overall picture quality.

  • Based on ISO MPEG-4 (Motion Picture Experts Group V4) video coding standard.

  • Developed by Microsoft.

Voice Codec: ACELP

  • Specially designed for compressing the human voice to produce high quality wide- band audio at very low bit rates.

  • Supports bit rates from 5 Kbps to 16 Kbps.

  • Developed by Sipro Lab Telecom.

Note: For backwards compatibility, our older music codec (Voxware's Metasound) is also included in Windows Media Technologies 4.0

See The Results

There is no better way to find out just how good these codecs are than to experience them for yourself. Visit the Windows Media Technologies 4.0 Showcase (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/default.aspx) on the Windows Media Guide and see just how good streaming audio and video can be.

How to Get the Codecs

Windows Media Technologies 4.0 compression codecs are shipped with our encoding and content creation tools, and can be downloaded from Windows Media Tools (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp). For more information on using codecs with Windows Media Technologies, read Codecs 101 for Windows Media Technologies (http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/imedia/windowsmedia/crcontent/codecs.asp) in the MSDN Online Windows Media Technologies Workshop.

The Windows Media Player comes with our latest decompression codecs, and if it doesn't have the particular codec used to compress an audio or video clip, it will automatically download it from an Internet server. In this way end-users can always stay up to date with the latest Microsoft advances in compression technology and play all popular content.

The best way end-users can get the Windows Media Player is to install it from its download page (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/mediaplayer/download). This page contains versions of the Windows Media Player for Windows 95/98, Microsoft® Windows NTTM Server, Windows NT Professional, Macintosh®, and Windows 3.x computers. Content developers can easily link to this page by using the Windows Media Player link logo (http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/imedia/windowsmedia/branding.asp).

PowerPoint 2000 Integration

Microsoft® PowerPoint® software is an efficient, easy-to-use presentation tool. But in today's fast-paced, geographically-dispersed business environment, not everyone who needs to see a presentation can be in the same room at the same time. Some will need to watch it from a remote location, and others may need to view it at a later time. With the Presentation Broadcasting feature of PowerPoint, people can do both: presenters can broadcast synchronized streaming PowerPoint presentations – slides, video, and audio – in real-time, and then store their presentations for on-demand playback.

By allowing remote or future users to not just view PowerPoint slides but also to see and hear the presenter, the Windows MediaTM Technologies extend both the reach and effectiveness of PowerPoint presentations. The presenter achieves a broader reach and increased productivity, the audience gets a richer experience that enables them to retain more information, and everyone saves on travel costs. Audience members only need a Web browser and the Windows Media Player to view a presentation.

Presentation Broadcast Features

Presentation Broadcast gives presenters new features that make it easy to broadcast a presentation. In addition, users can also use Presentation Broadcast to schedule the presentation, send invitations, and create a Web page to host it.

Present Directly From PowerPoint

Presenters create their slides using the familiar PowerPoint software program and then launch a wizard to schedule, publish, and deliver their presentation. During the presentation, all of the slide transitions and animations are synchronized with the actions of the presenter, allowing the audience to follow the presentation as if they were in the same room as the presenter.

Scalable

The scheduling wizard makes it easy for presenters to set up a presentation for a small audience or for an audience of thousands. For a small audience of about 10 people the presenter can broadcast directly from the PC. For a larger audience, the presenter can publish the presentation on a Windows Media server, which can support thousands of users. Presenters who don't have the bandwidth or servers available to handle the expected demand can use a third-party Windows Media Service Provider to host their content.

Broadcast Scheduling with Microsoft Outlook

A presenter can schedule a broadcast using the familiar meeting scheduling feature in Microsoft Outlook, and send invitations to all participants. Meeting reminders will pop up on attendees' machines at the specified time. A button on the reminder takes the audience directly to a Web page providing information and a link to the event.

Automatic Event Web Page

When a user schedules a broadcast, Presentation Broadcast automatically generates an event Web page. This page provides a starting point for the audience when they tune in to watch a broadcast. PowerPoint 2000 provides a recording of the presentation while it is being given live, so that anyone who missed it can see and hear it later, just as the presenter gave it. The presenter can also opt to set up this page to receive audience feedback either during or after the broadcast. The most popular feedback methods are e-mail and chat.

Flexible

With PowerPoint 2000, the presenter can easily customize the presentation framework to add a logo, change the look and feel of the presentation or add links from the presentation to their own Web-based applications on an intranet or the Internet. Software developers will also find Presentation Broadcasting a strong platform for developing multimedia enhancements for online presentations.

See for yourself

The best way to understand what PowerPoint 2000 and Windows Media Technologies can do is to actually see a presentation. To see a sample presentation, go to ( http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/imedia/windowsmedia/pp2000/Event.htm ).

Note: For viewing, you will need a browser that supports Dynamic HTML, such as Internet Explorer 4.0 or later, and the Windows Media Player ( http://www.microsoft.com//windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp ).

Get more information

If you'd like to learn more about PowerPoint and Presentation Broadcasting, you'll want to review the Office 2000 Resource Kit ( http://www.microsoft.com/office/ork/2000/five/70t4.htm ) , which includes documentation on the more advanced features. For detailed instructions on how to create your own Presentation Broadcast, read Presentation Broadcasting in PowerPoint 2000 ( http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/imedia/windowsmedia/ppt2000.asp ) in the MSDN Online Windows Media Workshop.

Easy Internet Radio Distribution

Streaming radio is one of the most popular, fastest-growing areas on the Internet. The Windows Media Guide has received as many as 2,000 requests a day from users asking to have their favorite radio station online, and more and more stations are hopping on the Internet. Windows MediaTM Technologies 4.0 provides the radio-ready technology to make the transition from on the air to online both painless and economical.

Radio-Friendly Technology

With any streaming media, users don't have to download a file, they just play the audio in real-time. The various components of Windows Media Technologies 4.0 provide a complete end-to-end solution for streaming radio signals to the Internet:

  • Windows Media Services streams the audio with Intelligent Streaming ( http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/technologies/bettertogether.aspx ), using advanced techniques to ensure the best audio quality possible regardless the connection speed.

  • Windows Media Encoder provides an easy interface for encoding a radio signal and sending it over the Internet.

  • With the release of the advanced new audio compression codec, code-named MS Audio, Windows Media Technologies deliver stunning audio quality over standard 28.8 kilobit per second (Kbps) Internet connections.

  • To play the stream, listeners use the Windows Media Player, which has been integrated into the latest release of Windows Internet Explorer as the Windows Radio toolbar. Users can even add a station to their Internet Explorer Favorites menu.

An Exploding Market for Online Radio

A recent survey (http://www.arbitron.com/radio_stations/arbitrends.htm) by Arbitron and Edison Research indicates that in the last quarter of 1998 and the first quarter of 1999, the percentage of Americans who have listened to the radio over the Internet has more than doubled. In July 1998, when the study originally took place, six percent of all Americans had listened to the radio over the Internet. In February 1999 their numbers indicated that 13 percent of Americans had listened to the radio over the Internet.

Broadcasters have an opportunity to reach new audiences. Any station that is broadcasting online is available in the office. The vast majority of listeners to a station's Web site are in the station's metropolitan service area. Stations have the opportunity to improve ratings by increasing at-work listeners in their local areas.

What's more, this expanded listener base comes at a relatively low cost. Broadcasters can expect to pay $900-$2000 every month from an Internet Service Provider, depending on the amount of bandwidth their station consumes every month.

But how does a radio station make money from this new market? Right now, the Internet broadcast industry is in its infancy. Business models that test acquiring loyal customers have grown more common as the Internet distribution medium becomes a serious broadcast medium. This is similar to the early days of Cable TV where significant new brands/value were built, as the medium grew significant. Today, advertising, e-commerce, and pay-per-view are all viable business opportunities for online broadcasters.

Support From Microsoft Programs

Programs are in place to make the transition to online radio easier and more successful. The Windows Media Service Provider Program provides a list of qualified service providers who work with radio stations to stream their broadcasts. Many Internet Service Providers will gladly trade services for advertising on your station, or the ability to advertise on your Web site. Microsoft also has partners that specialize in partnering with large-market radio stations to produce Web sites and to stream radio broadcasts. For a complete list the streaming radio service providers (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/service_provider/service/default.aspx), look in the Windows Media Services Provider Program listings. These partners provide all levels of service, from simply helping out with bandwidth to completely designing radio station Web sites.

Once a station is broadcasting online, the Windows Media Guide provides easy access to millions of listeners.

Stations streaming with Windows Media Technologies can gain instant exposure by joining the Windows Media Guide radio program and getting a listing on the Radio Station Guide (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/videoprod.aspx). This popular feature of the Windows Media Guide allows listeners to search for stations by both format and location and add them to their online "radio tuner."

Start Broadcasting Now

Windows Media Technologies 4.0 and the Windows Media Guide make it so easy to enter the online market, there's no reason to wait. Simply follow the steps below:

  1. Contact a specialist radio service provider (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/service_provider/service/default.aspx) or your local Internet Service Provider (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/service_provider/programs/wmsp.aspx).

  2. Read the Streaming Radio Deployment Roadmap (http://msdn.microsoft.com/training/roadmaps/roadmap3.asp) to get your site up and streaming.

  3. List your station on the Windows Media Radio Station Guide by sending e-mail to IERadio@microsoft.com, listing the station's call letters, city of origin, and any other contact information. If you have date- and time- specific promotions, enter them in the Windows Media Guide submission area (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/videoprod.aspx).

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