I’m going to cover the history of streaming music on an upcoming edition of The Ongoing History of New Music. Meanwhile, let’s go back and look at an early battle between Microsoft and Real Networks. This comes from StreamingMediaBlog.
2015 marked the 20th year of the streaming media industry and for many who weren’t around in the early days of the Internet, the history of how the streaming media industry started isn’t a story they know. Fewer still are aware of the role that RealNetworks and Microsoft played in growing the industry and helping to foster the adoption of streaming media content, thanks to their deep pockets and marketing muscle in the late 90’s. If you didn’t work in the streaming media industry during that time period, you would have no idea just how fierce the battle between Microsoft and RealNetworks really was. Words can’t describe how competitive the market was at the time or the amount of advancements that took place in the industry within a two-year period. You really had to live through it and be working in the industry during the early years to appreciate it. So for those that want a history lesson, or want to re-live the old days, here’s how it all started.
Progressive Networks is considered by many to have started the streaming media industry with their launch of RealAudio 1.0 in April of 1995. While they ushered in the era of the early days of the industry, with audio only streaming, they weren’t the only company at the time working on streaming technology. Others including Vivo, Xing, VDOnet, VXtreme and Microsoft were also developing their own platforms. Xing, which had an MPEG tool suite at the time, launched their StreamWorks platform, which supported not just audio, but video as well, just after Progressive Networks. So while many want to point to just one company that founded or started the industry, the fact is that no single entity or person deserves all the credit.
Microsoft was already working on video technology as early as 1993, when their video for Windows development kit was sent to developers that year. Microsoft’s video server technologies, originally code named Tiger, (because it sliced data into “stripes” for storage) led to its innovation in streaming media and was first demonstrated in 1994. Microsoft tried to provide the answer with “My TV” Microsoft Interactive Television, or MITV for short, but aside from the catchy acronym, MITV didn’t have much going for it. Progressive Networks spent more money and had an aggressive expansion plan and out executed everyone else. Progressive Networks got all the traction in the market and quickly became the default platform in the industry.