MICROSOFT SELECTS INTERVIDEO FOR WINDOWS MEDIA PORT TO LINUX

Microsoft has chosen InterVideo to port the software giant's Windows Media technology to the open-source Linux platform, the companies announced yesterday. The porting project lets consumer electronics companies ship Linux-based consumer devices such as set-top boxes, personal video recorders (PVRs), and other multimedia devices that are compatible with audio and video files encoded in the Windows Media 9 Series formats. The goal isn't to produce a Windows Media Player (WMP) for Linux desktop systems, however.

"We believe most of the major consumer electronics companies are looking at the Linux platform as a stable, low-cost solution for multimedia functionality, and InterVideo's superior technology and strong track record of multimedia innovation are an ideal fit," said Steve Ro, InterVideo's president and CEO. "In addition, InterVideo will now be able to add support for the popular Windows Media (formats) for all of these devices. Best of all, for manufacturers looking to add functionality without incurring huge expenses, using Windows Media technology could result in high-quality audio and video at low licensing costs."

InterVideo's agreement lets the company port various Windows Media 9 Series technologies for any interested consumer electronics manufacturer. These technologies include the Windows Media Audio (WMA) and Windows Media Video (WMV) codecs, Windows Media file container, Windows Media streaming protocols, and Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM). Because InterVideo already supports the DVD and MP3 formats on Linux, the company says it can now offer consumer electronics makers a complete solution.

Although Linux has stalled on the PC desktop, the open-source solution has made great strides in consumer electronics devices. Currently, Linux is used in digital video recording (DVR) devices such as TiVo, various satellite and cable TV set-top boxes, and even portable media players. In addition, Sony is reportedly considering Linux as the OS for its next video game console, the PlayStation 3.

MICROSOFT RELEASES GPMC

Microsoft has shipped Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), a new front end for managing Group Policy-related tasks in Windows Server 2003- and Windows 2000-based Active Directory (AD) domains (you must run GPMC on Windows 2003 or Windows XP Service Pack 1--SP1). GPMC is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in for managing Group Policy; Microsoft is providing this tool to Windows 2003 users for free. Because the tool presents a unified view of Group Policy Objects (GPOs) and organizational units (OUs), domains, and sites across an enterprise, GPMC can provide a central entry point for all Group Policy tasks.

In the past, Windows-based administrators who wanted to manage Group Policies had to use a variety of tools, including the MMC Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in, the MMC Active Directory Sites and Services snap-in, the Resultant Set of Policies (RSoP) snap-in, the ACL editor, and the Delegation Wizard. Although GPMC complements, rather than replaces, these tools, it does offer administrators a central, one-stop interface for performing these common Group Policy tasks: import, export, copy, and paste GPOs; manage GP security; generate file- and printer-based GPO reports; examine GPO and RSoP data; and back up and restore GPOs and script GPO operations that the tool exposes (i.e., you can't script individual policy settings, only GPO operations such as template GPO importing).

GPMC is compatible with Windows 2003 and Win2K domains, although the tool itself doesn't run on Win2K-based systems. To manage a Win2K domain, you'll need to install GPMC on an XP system running SP1 and the Windows .NET Framework or on a Windows 2003-based server. Naturally, Windows 2003-specific features--such as Group Policy modeling and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)--aren't available if you use the tool in a Win2K domain. Another GPMC limitation is that the tool can't edit settings within an individual GPO. For this task, you'll still need to access the existing Group Policy snap-in, now renamed the Group Policy Object Editor snap-in for Windows Server 2003.