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Windows on the Web
-- by James E. Powell
Hoping to provide an all-in-one content retrieval and entertainment solution, Creative Labs is developing a user interface that integrates everything from streaming audio and video to 3-D graphics and electronic commerce.
The software, called Inspire, can function as a browser or it can work in conjunction with your current browser. But it goes browsers one better by building in support for the most popular multimedia formats, so you don't have to download plug-ins. Inspire will also integrate technology that enables secure transactions over the Internet, according to the company.
Creative expects entertainment, educational and digital-content developers will use the new software to offer a variety of content "channels." From the CD channel, for example, users will be able to play samples of a new CD, using an interface that resembles the buttons on a traditional CD player.
Creative Labs announced partnerships with Progressive Networks, Total Entertainment Network (TEN), VDOnet and Wave Systems. Progressive Networks will provide the RealAudio plug-in; VDOnet will provide a streaming video plug-in; and Wave Systems will provide secure electronic commerce. TEN is a new Internet gaming site.
Creative Labs hopes to increase interest in multimedia, and, by including the application in its audio and video products, increase sales. The company hasn't ruled out advertising on Inspire.