Live from Las Vegas: Microsoft on Monday announced the availability of a Windows Media Player (WMP) preview release for the PocketPC, which adds support for streaming audio and video. The new technology builds on the WMP that shipped with the PocketPC, adding the ability to wirelessly stream content from the Internet using add-on devices such as the Metricom Ricochet at speeds of 15 kbps to 256 kbps. A demonstration of the technology, using a Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC, was impressive.

"With this next release, the technology preview, we add video support," said Sean Alexander, the Technical Product Manager for Windows Media at Microsoft. "It can run on any CE device, including set-top boxes." The initial release of the WMP for PocketPC Technology Preview Edition is designed for the Compaq device, but Microsoft will be providing versions for the HP Jornada and Casio Cassiopeia within the next month. Alexander told me that the preview added support for home movies created with Windows Movie Maker (WMM), which shipped earlier this fall in Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me). WMM will also be included in the Personal and Professional versions of Windows "Whistler," due next year.

For developers and power users, the technology preview is a chance to test IRDA and 802.3 Ethernet-based streaming capabilities, while the final version is expected early next year. You can download the iPAQ version of this software now from the Microsoft Web site