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Ogg Vorbis official release is here

Members of the open-source project unveil release 1.0 of their software, an audio encoding and streaming alternative to the MP3 format.

Members of the Ogg Vorbis project have unveiled release 1.0 of their software, an open-source alternative to the MP3 format.

The official release of the audio encoding and streaming technology has been widely anticipated by enthusiasts of open-source software. Ogg Vorbis is completely royalty-free, meaning companies can incorporate the technology into their software without cost.

The team behind the Ogg Vorbis format is the Xiph Foundation, which serves as a nonprofit parent for the open-source development effort. "After years of research and development, Ogg Vorbis is finally ready for public release," Emmett Plant, CEO of Xiph, said in a statement posted on the foundation's Web site.

Last month, video-compression provider On2 Technologies said it would blend its video codec with Ogg Vorbis, and more than 300,000 people and companies have downloaded the test versions of the software, which has been in the works for two years.

Supporters of the technology have been urging online music fans to make Ogg Vorbis their format of choice instead of MP3 or other proprietary formats such as Microsoft's Windows Media. However, users of those technology number in the millions.

Because of the small size and high-quality MP3 files, the technology has become the de facto standard for trading audio files over the Internet. However, the Fraunhofer Institute and other members of the MPEG Consortium control the format, meaning software makers must pay the group royalties for each encoder distributed.

Ogg Vorbis creators are hoping their technology's size and quality puts it on par with software such as MPEG-4--a rival set of audio and video technologies designed in part to condense large digital packages into small files so they can be sent quickly via the Web.

The keepers of a patent on MPEG-4 just culminated months of hashing out a royalty plan for their technology that would encourage use of the technology, something Ogg Vorbis users don't have to deal with.