August 15, 2006 3:54 PM PDT

Real to plug Windows media support into Linux

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

SAN FRANCISCO--RealNetworks will release open-source software this year that will let Linux computers play Windows Media files.

The media delivery software company and Novell made the announcement at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here. Novell said it will include the tool in its Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 in the fourth quarter.

Currently, Linux users can play Windows Media Video (WMV) and Windows Media Audio (WMA) content if they install closed-source modules, said Jeff Duchmann, general manager of client and digital rights management technologies at RealNetworks. As a result of a licensing deal RealNetworks signed with Microsoft and its settlement of an antitrust suit against the software giant, RealNetworks will build the Windows Media support into its proprietary RealPlayer for Linux software, the company said. The support will not be in the open-source Helix Community project it launched to bring some RealNetworks technology to Linux.

However, the software won't support digital rights management available with Windows, he added.

RealNetworks also is evaluating adding support for the AAC compression format, an audio compression format used by Apple Computer's iTunes and others, he said, though that would require further licensing actions for the company. "If we're going to do music services on other platforms, like Linux, we're going to have to support it," he said.

Duchmann added that RealNetworks also hopes to bring its music store technology to Linux.

Expanding application support is a key part of making Linux viable on desktop computers. It's a goal many companies have chased, largely unsuccessfully, for years. Novell is the largest company currently working on the idea, employing a catch-phrase of spreading Linux "from the desktop to the data center."

"We have for the first time a real alternative to the Windows desktop. Linux and open source are there," Novell Chief Technology Officer Jeffrey Jaffe said at a news conference. In particular, there's a big chance for companies to make their case as customers evaluate Microsoft's new Vista version of Windows.

"Over the next six months, there is an opportunity for the IT organizations to do a significant pilot--to find several hundred users who are knowledge workers and let them as a pilot try out our desktop," Jaffe said.

Correction: Due to incorrect information provided by a RealNetworks representative, this story incorrectly described the company's plans to add Windows Media Video and Audio support to Linux. Such support will be in the proprietary RealPlayer for Linux software.

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RealNetworks Inc., Novell Inc., Linux, Linux computer, Linux software


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So what about Real's own codecs?
Interesting to see that they've struck a deal with MS w.r.t. Windows Media codecs, but will this let *any* Open Source programmer take the Windows Media codec source code from the Helix player and use it in their own project without having to strike some special deal with Microsoft? If not, then this isn't truly Open Source, surely?

And what about Real's own audio/video codec source code? Is that going to be Open Sourced too? If not, then again isn't this announcement somewhat underwhelming?
Posted by rklrkl (143 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The realplayer is not an opensource project, the opensourced one is helix p
The different is the codec, all private codecs are not opened, such like rmvb, wmv, mpeg4 video.....

I think if real open source WMV, mpeg4 video, they will have legal problem. But at least , they should open source it's own audio/video coed.
Posted by steven zhang (1 comment )
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Real doing the work, Microsoft getting the benefit...
That's all their 'alliance' is all about. Microsoft has enough problems writing programs for Windows...
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
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Microsoft has problems.... makes me sick
one thing is for sure... thier hiring process could use an overhaul.. microsoft is getting raided.. has been for quite some time.. and its so large and disconnected.. the managers avoid applicant pools because its so time consuming... seems like only the well connected get jobs.. its amazing how many tech companies are sheltering people who truley dont deserve to be there... and all the work falls on a few who sacrifice everything to just be able to pay their rent and drive a sports car.. while the execs consume millions
Posted by freqmd5 (19 comments )
Link Flag
media player gui will probably have back door...
most have.. i switched to xmms.. it was the most secure one around... but then xmms became increasingly difficult to install..
Posted by freqmd5 (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mepis Linux comes with xmms pre-installed.
Posted by wgilbert5 (19 comments )
Link Flag
Closed Source Module
MPlayer can only play Windows Media Player files using the closed source DLL from Microsoft and some glue code.
Posted by DarkPhoenixFF4 (206 comments )
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media player gui will probably have back door...
most have.. i switched to xmms.. it was the most secure one around... but then xmms became increasingly difficult to install..
Posted by freqmd5 (19 comments )
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Linux already has one
Mplayer already plays those formats and pretty much every other conceivable format. And it works damn well too.

Guess this is just marketing hype
Posted by joshuasmythe (32 comments )
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MPlayers can play, but not all
MPlayer and MPlayer-plugin cannot play some streaming contents such as Yahoo Japan movies, Gyao Japan's free movies etc. I am expecting that I would be able to watch Gyao movies with Linux!
Posted by printempo (1 comment )
Link Flag
It's still not easy
I have set up quite a few linux desktops for my self and family and the Multimedia PLAYBACK is the most troublesome part. Out of the box the lack of DVD play capability and Full Windows media support makes a quick easy setup impossible. While I am able to get these features in place IT'S STILL TO MUCH FO HACK for the mainstream crowd. Corporate deployments of Linux will have skilled support in house to do these kind of things but home users won't. This is a giant step in the right direction.
Posted by Captain-Atari (80 comments )
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