By Tom Quinlan
Posted at 3:47 PM PT, Jun 24, 1996
Microsoft Corp. and Apple Computer Inc. are ready to bury the hatchet and
adopt a common approach to multimedia standards and products.
The companies are holding talks that could result in the integration of
Apple's QuickTime development environment into the Windows 95 and Windows NT
environments, including support for the DirectX API set, sources said.
The agreement would include development of Apple's QuickTime Internet Movie
Utility for Microsoft's Internet Explorer, giving Internet Explorer the same
capability to capture and play streaming video over the Internet as Netscape
Communications Corp.'s Navigator browser.
If the two sides reach an agreement, Microsoft will develop an Internet
Explorer plug-in for QuickTime and Apple will modify its technology to improve
support for Windows' multimedia technologies.
Apple is already expanding the QuickTime development platform to the Windows
environment, Apple executives confirmed, and is already working to support
most of the DirectX APIs with QuickTime. Currently, QuickTime for Windows only
offers playback capabilities.
"What's really happening here is that this is no longer a religious issue for
either company," said Carlos Montalvo, head of Apple's QuickTime development
efforts. "Microsoft can look at the numbers as well as we can and see that 60
percent of the video content on the Web is created by OpenDoc and another 30
percent is MPEG, which QuickTime can also read."
The rift between Microsoft and Apple is being bridged in other ways as well.
Apple is bundling Microsoft's BackOffice suite with its Advanced Workgroup
Solutions servers in Europe -- a move that could be duplicated in the United
States if the effort is successful overseas, company sources said.
"We've got to crawl before we can walk," one executive noted.
And Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates assured Apple that the next iteration of
its front-end suite of applications, Office 97, will be available for
Macintosh as well as Windows.
Beyond making Apple's QuickTime Internet technology available, Apple will
also integrate its QuickTime VR technology, which can be used to create a
panoramic, 3-D environment that can incorporate embedded objects within an
"Microsoft's ActiveMovie technology is very late," said one developer. "They
haven't even shipped the software developer's kit yet. Microsoft might not be
that wedded to ActiveMovie anymore."
To replace ActiveMovie in Microsoft's affections, Apple would need to redo
the QuickTime code to improve its support for Microsoft's underlying
multimedia technology, primarily the DirectX API set.
Apple is working to incorporate support for most of the DirectX APIs into
QuickTime. The crown jewel of those APIs is Direct3D, which competes head to
head with Apple's QuickDraw 3D software.
Meanwhile, longtime Microsoft partner Intel Corp. is also seeking to work
with Microsoft to provide video over the Internet.
Instead of using Apple's "fast start" streaming video technology -- which
downloads enough data to start playing the video while downloading video
behind the scenes -- Intel is trying to convince Microsoft to hold out for an
improved version of Intel's existing video technology. This would feature a
better compression algorithm that would enable users to decode video over the
Internet on the fly.
Apple, in Cupertino, Calif., can be reached at _http://www.apple.com/_.
Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., can be reached at _http://www.microsoft.com/_.