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DVD players to use Microsoft media formats

Four consumer electronics companies plan to support the software titan's Windows Media technologies in their devices.

Microsoft said Monday that four consumer electronics companies will integrate Windows Media technologies into DVD players, a deal that could boost the use of the software titan's multimedia products in consumer devices.

The companies will unveil their partnerships Monday during a keynote speech by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Gates is expected to show off Matsushita's Panasonic DVD player embedded with Windows Media Audio software.

The Panasonic DVD player will be able to play back DVD-R and CD-R discs with Windows Media and MP3 formats burned into them. The component, the DVD-RV32, is expected to ship in February.

Other companies that have signed on include Apex Digital, which will feature Windows Media Audio in six new DVD player models; China's Shinco; and Toshiba.

Microsoft has pegged multimedia software as a priority in its online efforts. The Redmond, Wash.-based company has waged war against rival software developer RealNetworks for dominance in multimedia software used on the Internet. It also is working closely with content producers to spread the adoption of Windows Media.

Windows Media and RealNetworks products allow Internet users to listen to audio and watch videos either streamed across or downloaded from the Web. Both Microsoft and RealNetworks have been trying to turn their audio and video playback technologies into de facto standards on the Web.

Last month, Microsoft announced that its audio and video formats would be supported by several DVD chipmakers in 2002. The software company said Cirrus Logic, ESS Technology, LSI Logic, STMicroelectronics and Zoran, which represent 90 percent of the DVD processors manufactured and shipped in 2000, would incorporate Windows Media formats.