Microsoft Corporation on Monday announced the final release of Windows Media Player 7 (WMP7) and its Windows Media Technologies 7, a platform for authoring, delivering, and playing digital media. In addition to WMP7, Windows Media Technologies 7 includes Windows Media Services for Windows 2000 (content delivery), Windows Media Encoder 7 (content creation), Windows Media Rights Manager 7 (digital rights management), and the Windows Media Software Development Kit (SDK) 7 (for application development). WMP7 is available for Windows 2000 and Windows 98 users only.

"We have now crossed the chasm to make digital media mainstream," says Will Poole, the vice president of the Digital Media Division at Microsoft. "Windows Media Technologies 7 delivers the full potential of digital media for consumers, content providers, developers and enterprise customers, and for the first time moves this technology beyond the early adopters to the everyday user." WMP7 enables near-VHS quality video at 400 Kbps, near DVD-quality video at 700 Kbps, CD quality audio, secure content distribution, and more.

"The release of Windows Media Player 7 represents a digital turning point for both our industry and millions of consumers around the world," said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft. "Windows Media Player 7 delivers a unified, easy-to-use player that will break down the barriers to mainstream adoption of digital media."

Most of the Windows Media Technologies 7 products are all available now from the Windows Media Web site. Windows Media Services ships free with Windows 2000 and only a beta version of Windows Media Encoder is currently available, though the final release is expected later this summer. As mentioned last week, I will have a full review of WMP7 on the Windows SuperSite soon