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Microsoft enlists media allies

The software company announces new supporters for its HighMAT technology, designed to make it easier to move digital content between PCs and home electronics devices.

Microsoft announced expanded support for its media ventures on Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show 2003 in Las Vegas.

The software giant said 11 new companies have bought into its new High-performance Media Access Technology (HighMAT), which makes it easier to move digital content between PCs and electronics devices such as CD players, car stereos and DVD players.

New supporters include consumer-device manufacturers such as Apex Digital and Matsushita Kotobuki Electronics Industries, and software developers such as Ahead Software, B.H.A. and Pinnacle Systems, according to Microsoft.

Consumer-electronics devices have traditionally differed from PCs in the way they display and open digital files, making crossover use of CDs, for example, a random and confusing experience for consumers. HighMAT is designed to smooth that translation.

"Consumers now have faster and easier ways to create and play back their own personal digital media collections of photos and music on CDs right in their living room," Dave Fester, general manger of Microsoft's Windows Digital Media Division, said in a statement.

The software was co-developed by Panasonic and Microsoft, which introduced the product in October with plans to license it and incorporate it into their own products. Fuji Photo Film was the first company to license the product. Microsoft includes the technology in its Windows Media Player 9 and its Windows Movie Maker 2 for XP.

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At the Consumer Electronics Show,
the theme is tech anywhere, anytime.

In a separate announcement, Microsoft said that 40 more devices now support its Windows Media format, pushing the number of Media-compliant CD players, car stereos and other portable devices to more than 200. Companies announcing new DVD players with Windows Media Audio support included Apex Digital, JVC and Toshiba. In addition, Polaroid unveiled the first new DVD player to support Windows Media Video.