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Microsoft joins digital audio group

The software maker says it is now a member of the World DAB Forum, which is developing standards for digital audio broadcasting.

Microsoft is continuing to take the standards route to further spread its multimedia prowess.

On Thursday, the software maker said it is joining the World DAB Forum, an industry group engaged in developing digital audio broadcasting technology, to help promote devices and services based on DAB's digital radio standard.

The forum, whose members include broadcasters and audio gear makers, is working to push the adoption of digital radio globally, aiming to achieve commercial success for the DAB transport mechanism. In addition to the promise of distortion-free audio, digital radio technology could also let broadcasters offer new services like the delivery of text, data, pictures and video over radio waves.

For Microsoft, digital radio also offers an opportunity to promote its Windows Media 9 Series software. The company is using DAB in tandem with the multimedia software in product trials in London, where it's working with Capital Radio Group, NTL Group and others.

"Our listeners for the first time are able to hear Capital in London, broadcasting in CD-quality with surround sound," Nathalie Schwarz, director of strategy and development at Capital Radio, said in a statement.

Microsoft Research's lab in Cambridge, England, meanwhile, has begun trials to test DAB technology across home and mobile networks.

The software maker has been exploring new avenues for taking its multimedia technology beyond the PC and making it compatible with devices like set-top boxes. Last year, Microsoft submitted Windows Media 9 code to a Hollywood group as a standards candidate. It is seeking to provide a successor to MPEG-2, a compression standard that is the foundation of satellite, cable, video-editing systems and DVDs.

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