Tech Industry

Macromedia players on Win 98

Shedding its Mac-only focus, the company says Shockwave and Flash players are now preinstalled in Microsoft's Windows 98.

Furthering its quest for ubiquity, multimedia software company Macromedia made a formal announcement today that its Shockwave and Flash players are preinstalled in Microsoft's Windows 98 operating system.

The multimedia players can be automatically installed from the Windows 98 desktop, saving users the step of downloading the software off the Internet.

Macromedia executives touted the move as a step toward widespread adoption of its media player technology among average Net users and Web designers alike. They added that if more Web surfers have the multimedia players installed, more Web designers will be more inclined to purchase the multimedia tools for Shockwave and Flash.

Today's announcement clearly was another attempt to get the message out that Macromedia is no longer a Macintosh-specific company.

Macromedia started off developing multimedia software primarily for the Mac platform. But with Apple Computer's downward spiral in market share, Macromedia has seen its revenue percentages shift more to applications based on the Windows platform. Since then, the company has begun nudging its way out of hefty losses that occurred last year.

Leveraging the gigantic customer base for Windows 98 may help Macromedia push its software into the hands of more Internet users, said Forrester Research analyst Seema Williams. However, Williams added getting software featured on Windows 98 is not the panacea.

"[The partnership] is incremental in getting the player out to the market," he said. "Does this turn them into a magically profitable company? It's definitely not the silver bullet." But Macromedia clearly is hoping that it is.

Shockwave allows users to download Web pages that feature audio clips synchronized with animation. The programs are created using a software tool package called Director, which Macromedia sells to Web developers and designers. Flash technology allows users to download vector-based animated pages off the Web, which have higher animation quality than Shockwave programs. Macromedia also sells Flash software technology to Web developers.

David Mendels, general manager of Macromedia's graphics, Internet, and multimedia business unit, declined to comment on the terms of the deal in an interview, but he added that the announcement is a further step in a "long-term" relationship with Microsoft.

Shockwave and Flash players can be supported on both Netscape and Internet Explorer browsers on Macintosh and Windows operating systems.

Macromedia chairman Bud Colligan is a board member of CNET: The Computer Network, which publishes News.com.