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CMGI's ICast chooses Windows Media Player

The Internet venture firm's online entertainment arm will adopt Microsoft's technology as its streaming format, making it the latest of several companies to choose Microsoft over RealNetworks.

ICast, the online entertainment arm of Internet investor CMGI, said today that it will adopt Microsoft's technology as its streaming format in a move that may foreshadow shifting industry allegiances.

As previously reported, ICast will use Microsoft's Windows Media Player in ICaster, the company's video and audio entertainment broadcasting software, and on its Web site. The ICaster is downloadable software that combines audio and video streaming, instant messaging, chat and search.

The companies also said they will work closely on initiatives that will drive traffic to and promote downloads of the ICaster.

The marketing agreement comes as Microsoft makes a series of announcements at the Streaming Media West conference in San Jose, Calif., today. Other agreements include the launch of a broadband guide and a list of partnerships with companies including General Instrument, Dell Computer, Texas Instruments and Preview Systems.

"Both ICast and Microsoft understand the enormous role that streaming media will play in the future of online entertainment," David Wetherell, chief executive of CMGI, said in a statement. "The Windows Media platform allows ICast to achieve tremendous market reach, deliver the highest-quality digital media experience, and provides a reliable, popular platform with which to grow our member base."

Will Poole, general manager of Microsoft's streaming media devision, also applauded the deal with ICast. "Windows Media enables new opportunities, and we're excited that ICast is delivering top-notch entertainment and a compelling community experience using Windows Media," he said.

CMGI 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.

Today'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.