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RealNetworks Boosts Net Audio Software

October 23, 2000|JON HEALEY

Promising to boost the fidelity of online music, RealNetworks Inc. has upgraded its widely used software for delivering audio over the Internet. The improvements to RealAudio--the first major revision since April 1998--enable online broadcasters to deliver better sound at lower cost. The new version also lets consumers copy songs onto their computers at near-CD quality using half as much data as previous version, meaning they can collect more music on their computers, push more songs onto their portable players and download songs more quickly through the Internet.

That's the same direction that one of RealNetworks' leading competitors, Microsoft Corp., has been heading with its Windows Media software. Microsoft announced a similar leap in efficiency earlier this year, offering near-CD quality recording in half the space required by previous versions of its software. RealAudio 8.0, which is due to be released in a free trial version today, also lets music lovers make digital copies of songs in extremely high fidelity. That feature stems from a deal with Sony Corp. that lets RealNetworks incorporate Sony's proprietary audio format, ATRAC3.

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