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RealNetworks to release more code

The company is expected to release more streaming-media source code Monday, in the latest move to fend off Microsoft.

LONDON--RealNetworks is expected to release more streaming-media source code Monday, in the latest move to fend off Microsoft.

The move will provide wider access to its Helix Producer software. Producer is a key element of Helix, which includes server software, encoding software and client software for decoding.

The source code for the client software was released in October, and the source code for the server software is expected to follow within a couple of months, company representatives said Wednesday at Streaming Media Europe in London.

Rob Glaser, RealNetworks' chief executive, is due to launch the Producer code during a Web conference hosted on the company's Helix site. RealNetworks is betting the farm on open source in a move reminiscent of Netscape's failed effort to thwart Microsoft's market share gains.

Releasing the source code is not an easy process, said George Fraser, director of European Media Systems for RealNetworks. "It's not just about saying: 'Here, have the source code,'" said Fraser. "We also have to support over 1,000 (application programming interfaces). It's not a simple task to produce the documentation to support all those."

The release of the Producer source code will enable other software companies, as well as individual programmers and groups of programmers, to write their own software for encoding video and audio streams into the RealVideo 9 and RealAudio 8 format. The Producer software is currently available only for the Windows and Linux operating systems.

RealNetworks is keen to see its RealVideo and RealAudio formats gain wider adoption. The Helix strategy is in part designed to gain the company more presence on non-PC and embedded devices--an area where Microsoft has made significant inroads and Apple Computer hopes to maintain a presence through MPEG-4.

At the Streaming Media Conference, the company demonstrated a Nokia 3650 mobile phone with a built-in RealOne Player capable of playing back MPEG-4, H263 and RealVideo content. Nokia's Series 60 operating system, which runs on the Symbian 6.1 operating system, will come with the RealOne Player built in when it launches early in 2003, Fraser said.

ZDNet UK's Matt Loney reported from London .