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ICast shifting to Microsoft Webcasting technology

In an announcement to be made tomorrow, the Webcasting arm of Internet investor CMGI will join others in signing on with Microsoft's Windows Media Player.

ICast, the Webcasting arm of Internet investor CMGI, will adopt Microsoft technology as its "streaming" format of choice in a move that may foreshadow shifting industry allegiances.

ICast will broadcast video and audio entertainment using Microsoft's Windows Media Player, according to people familiar with the two companies' plans. An announcement will be made tomorrow, the people said.

The move can be seen as one in an increasing number of content providers choosing Microsoft's technology over the leading Web streaming provider, RealNetworks. Last month, Warner Bros. Online dropped its deal with RealNetworks because of what studio executives claimed were brash demands by RealNetworks to promote its brand during broadcasts of Warner Bros. Web programs.

Tomorrow's announcement will offer one of the first glimpses of ICast's plans since CMGI announced earlier this year it would shell out $100 million in funding for the project. CMGI has cast the project as its most concerted push to become a broadband entertainment content provider.

"The face of entertainment is changing," reads the ICast mission statement on CMGI's Web site. "Pre-packaged, off-the-shelf content is losing ground to the do-it-yourself, participatory nature of online entertainment. ICast will be a primary agent of this movement by providing users the platform, tools and content to participate in the entertainment they thrive on."

But executing on the vision has had its fair share of bumps. Last month, 20-year media veteran Neil Braun, who was hired to run ICast, left the company, reportedly because of personality differences with CMGI chief executive David Wetherell. Matt Farber, the one-time MTV Online executive hired as ICast's chief operating officer, followed Braun.

In the interim, CMGI appointed Margaret Heffernan as chief executive and chief operating officer for ICast. Before her stint at ICast, Heffernan served as chief executive of ZineZone, an online content and community site targeting adventure seekers.

Microsoft declined comment. ICast could not be reached for comment.