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February 23, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

A Microsoft Corp multimedia maven attempted to downplay the importance of audio and video streaming software at the antitrust trial yesterday, dismissing talk about differing file formats as a non-issue. Eric Engstrom, who ran the Windows client and collaboration division, multimedia at Microsoft between August 1997 and October 1998, said that all streaming software sought to deliver 15 to 24 frames per second video with a synchronized audio track. He said that software from Apple Computer Corp, RealNetworks Inc and Microsoft all achieved this and were indistinguishable to the customer. He laid the blame for any problems squarely at the door of the internet – saying that it caused poor-quality visuals and dropouts because of low bandwidth, which necessitated extreme data compression. The government has accused Microsoft of sabotaging Apple’s QuickTime because Windows can not play back Apple’s .mov file format. Engstrom said that the talk might as well be of Microsoft and Apple’s inability to license third-party compression- decompression (codec) routines, because they had as much bearing on whether a file would play back. Outside the courtroom, ComputerWire asked Microsoft’s Todd Neilson why the company had not simply licensed Apple’s .mov file format, and he claimed that they had tried. Another Microsoft spokesman said that Apple would not cross-license the format preferring to try and make some money. Engstrom’s cross-examination continues today.

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