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QuickTime 3.0 is tardy

Developers waiting for Apple's QuickTime 3.0 will have to wait a little longer as the multimedia authoring and playback software won't ship until the end of summer.

    Developers waiting for Apple Computer's (AAPL) QuickTime 3.0 will have to wait a little longer, as the popular multimedia authoring and playback software won't ship until the end of summer, company managers said today.

    Apple had promised a second-quarter shipment when it unveiled QuickTime 3.0 in April, but developer reaction to prerelease versions has not been satisfactory, according to senior product manager Mitchell Weinstock.

    "We're running into things that are not acceptable as developers evaluate them," Weinstock said without elaborating. He added, though, that the QuickTime team would like to add support for more graphic formats as well as more support for various MPEG video compression schemes.

    Apple is touting QuickTime 3.0's support for several new digital media formats, allowing a QuickTime-enabled application--Adobe Premiere and Macromedia Director are two examples--to interpret QuickTime behaviors of any file created in any other QuickTime-enabled application.

    The new version will for the first time allow authoring on the Windows platform. Previous versions allowed only playback of QuickTime files on the Windows side. The Windows authoring strategy is risky for Apple as it could encourage developers to choose PCs over Macintoshes. Weinstock echoed other Apple executives, however, by saying that the establishment of QuickTime on the Windows platform would in fact encourage the purchase of Apple hardware.

    Current QuickTime licenses are free of charge to software developers, and that strategy isn't going to change in the near future, Weinstock noted, although he acknowledged that next year could bring some changes in Apple's thinking as QuickTime becomes more widespread.

    "Apple doesn't want to do anything to slow down the adoption of QuickTime on Windows. The amount of money we'd derive from licenses would be so small it wouldn't cover the cost of the paperwork. A more interesting way to derive revenue is to do specialty tools and add-ons. It's more like the JavaSoft model where you have the underlying technology that everyone's using for free, and then you have support industries that sprout up around it."

    There are currently 2,200 developers with QuickTime licenses, Weinstock said.

    Future versions of QuickTime will support streaming media and interactive objects that change their behavior based on their environment. Weinstock also said he would like to see support for the emerging FlashPix digital photography standard. One feature that Apple was looking to include in QuickTime 3.0--the ability to embed interactive "hot spots" in full-motion video--has instead been put on the back burner, according to Weinstock.