Corona Tunes in Audio, Not Video

At Internet World in New York, Microsoft launched its next version of Windows Media services, code-named Corona. As is typical lately, Microsoft is aiming at the consumer, promising a more TV-like experience.

At Internet World in New York, Microsoft launched its next version of Windows Media services, code-named Corona. As is typical lately, Microsoft is aiming at the consumer, promising a more TV-like experience.

Demonstrations showed Microsoft has almost mastered the audio portions—even in alpha code, Corona streamed Dolby 5.1 stereo thats virtually indistinguishable from normally encoded CDs. Coronas compression algorithm is far more advanced than MP3 technology now and may produce sound thats equivalent to the little-used HDCD audio format.

Corona features a technology that Microsoft calls "stuffing the buffer." This allows the streaming part of an encoded audio to be blasted down to the player at a faster rate (if available) than the bit rate in which the file is encoded. Stuffing allows users to switch among "channels" quickly without the lag time associated with buffering the streams.

Videophiles, however, will still be wanting. Microsofts not even close to bringing a TV-like experience to streaming, although it exists in a fashion with satellite technology via DirecTV or dish networks.

Microsoft will push Windows Medias streaming abilities, add sophisticated digital rights management technology and expand consumer electronic ties. In other words, Microsoft aims to be the leader for content distribution across radio and television.