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MS Media Player tech gets InterVideo Linux port

Linux DVD players with MS DRM ahoy...

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The business-devouring GPL drew closer to Fort Redmond this week, with the news that InterVideo has been licensed to port the company's Windows Media Technologies to Linux. Which means if Microsoft's highly-imaginative past claims about open source are true (which they're not), the dreaded cancer will munch its way first through Windows Media Player, then by virtue of that product's integration in XP, through the Windows empire, then through the whole of Microsoft and before you know it, rats, there goes the whole world economy.

Or something. Even Microsoft must be trying to downplay this sort of nonsense these days (which is why it's such fun to remind people), and business is business. The InterVideo deal itself indicates that Microsoft is more concerned about getting Windows Media technologies accepted as a standard than it is about trying to hobble Linux's multimedia capabilities, and it also places Microsoft's IP several decks away from La Peste.

InterVideo currently produces LinDVD, a Linux version of its WinDVD DVD player. WinDVD is a consumer application, while LinDVD "is currently available only to manufacturers for evaluation and integration." It's based on MontaVista's embedded Linux, and is aimed at Linux-based consumer devices. LinDVD itself is not open source, and should billg care to buff-up on what his people have got him into this week, he could check out the licensing section of MontaVista's FAQ, which deals in some detail with Linux IP issues.

InterVideo will now be able to add ports of Windows Media audio and video codecs, file container, streaming protocols and - yum - DRM support. As Microsoft's gameplan is to get Windows Media and its associated DRM as the standard distribution mechanism for music and video, we presume that the licensing terms ensure that the components are not entirely pick and mix, and that Microsoft envisages growing Linux-based portable players into Microsoft DRMed ones.

Why, though, if you can buy a Windows DVD player direct from InterVideo's site, can't you buy a Linux one? Well, that does seem to be a puzzle. Back at Comdex 2000 LinDVD was 'available soon,' and InterVideo senior VP Joe Monastiero was promising a downloadable version from the Web site for $29.95 by Q1 2001. It's not immediately obvious why the wheels fell off this one, but as LinDVD wasn't actually introduced until November of last year, perhaps the whole show is just running two years late. ®

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