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Windows Media 9 gets Sundance showing

Microsoft plans to screen four independent movies at the Sundance film fest with its Windows Media 9 Series software, as part of its efforts to woo Hollywood.

Microsoft plans to screen four independent movies at the Sundance Film Festival with its Windows Media 9 Series software, as part of the company's ongoing efforts to warm Hollywood to its technology.

The software giant's media playback technology will be used with four films, "Masked and Anonymous," "The Maldonado Miracle," "A Foreign Affair," and "Milk and Honey."

Sundance, which began Thursday and runs through Jan. 26 in Park City, Utah, will also use Windows Media 9 to deliver short films on its Web site.

Microsoft has been wooing Hollywood for years in hopes that the industry will adopt its multimedia playback technology when offering their films on PCs. The company unveiled Windows Media 9 in September at a star-studded presentation featuring "Titanic" director James Cameron, Beatles producer Sir George Martin and musician LL Cool J.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates described that launch as another step in the company's vision to deliver digital media to a host of PC-like devices in the home. Hollywood, however, has remained noncommittal and has continued to support Windows Media rivals: RealNetworks and Apple Computer's QuickTime.

Meanwhile, Microsoft faces competition from MPEG-4, a standard for compressing large digital files into smaller formats that can be delivered over the Internet. Many consumer-electronics companies have supported MPEG-4, partially out of concern that Microsoft's operating system dominance would further spread into digital compression.

Earlier this month, Microsoft said it will charge licensing fees to device manufacturers that do not support Windows but want to use Windows Media 9. Proponents of MPEG-4 criticized the move, claiming that license fees would create unfair competition and limit consumer choice.

News.com's Stefanie Olsen contributed to this report