Microsoft Puts Flash in Windows CE Devices

Microsoft Corp. put more of its industry weight behind Macromedia

Inc.'s Flash technology, announcing that it will offer to bundle the

Flash Player with its Windows CE embedded operating system for device

manufacturers that use the operating system.

Under a licensing deal between the long-standing industry partners,

Microsoft will offer OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) a license

for the Flash Player at a reduced price when they license Windows CE.

That operating system can be used to build such devices as car

computers and smart phones.

"We've been working with a variety of OEMs who are Microsoft partners

to have the player available on their devices," said Peter Goldie,

general manager of rich media at Macromedia. "There aren't a lot in the

market yet that we can point to."

Four companies have agreed to take advantage of the new licensing

agreement, Macromedia said. They are Casio Computer Co. Ltd., Samsung

Group, Siemens Corp. and Thomson Tak -- an interactive TV maker owned

70 percent by Thomson Multimedia Corp. and 30 percent by Microsoft.

Up until now, OEMs have had to pay a licensing fee for the Flash

Player, royalties for each unit shipped that includes the player, and

costs associated with porting the player to different computing

platforms -- such as a cell phone or set-top box. Under the new offer,

those companies will only have to pay a standard fee factored into the

cost of the Windows CE license, both companies said.

"From an OEM's prospective, there are costs associated with bringing

over the Flash Player to a new platform," said Aubrey Edwards, director

of marketing for Macromedia's embedded appliance platform group. For

example, a cell phone that can display Flash content will need a

different customized version of the software than will a set-top box

that uses Flash to display content such as interactive program guides.

Macromedia did not say how much companies could save by acquiring

access to the technology through a Windows CE license.

Macromedia created Flash as a tool for Web developers to create

animated graphics and dynamic Web content. It has gained industry

backing mainly because Flash files are small and can be delivered

across the Web quickly. Flash content can also be resized without

losing image quality. Macromedia's Flash Player is a small plug-in that

users need to view that content on a PC or other computing device.

On the desktop, Flash technology has become ubiquitous for building and

viewing dynamic Web sites and digital animation. The Flash Player

currently is installed on roughly 97 percent of all desktops PCs,

according to Macromedia, and it has maintained much of that market

dominance through industry partnerships to distribute the player.

Microsoft said early this month that it would bundle the Flash Player

in its forthcoming Windows XP operating system.

However, the technology hasn't taken off very well in markets other

than the PC desktop, according to Macromedia. Its deal with Microsoft

should help spur adoption, Goldie said. "It will take the ubiquity of

the player beyond the desktop," he said.

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