RealNetworks launches all-in-one streaming server

SEATTLE, July 22 (Reuters) - RealNetworks Inc. RNWK.O> on Monday unveiled a new server capable of sending music and video over the Internet in all formats,
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SEATTLE, July 22 (Reuters) - RealNetworks Inc. onMonday unveiled a new server capable of sending music and videoover the Internet in all formats, including those of its digitalmedia rivals Microsoft Corp. and Apple Computer Inc..

RealNetworks, which has been hurt by slower sales of itssoftware to businesses, said its new Helix Universal server wouldcut costs for buyers and improve on the ability of its lateststreaming software, RealSystem 8, to send digital content over theInternet.

As more people turn to the Internet to get music and videosuch as news, sports and even movies, digital content distributorsface a variety of streaming standards as well as a number ofdifferent systems to "stream," or send their material over theWeb.

That content is received and played back on media players.RealNetworks is best known for its Real series of media players,which, according to Nielsen/Netratings, has been giving up itslead over Microsoft's Media Player.

RealNetworks Chief Executive Rob Glaser said the new serverwould help "reinvent the industry" since it allows digital mediadistributors to put their content on a single platform and avoidthe costly maintenance of having different systems, media andhardware.

To do this, Glaser said that the Helix Universal Server wouldbe available for Windows and Unix-based server operating systemsas well as for open-source Linux.

RealNetworks said it will make Helix's source code partiallyavailable under a special license for developers that want tomodify the program for their own purposes.

"There is a major major commercial dimension to this," Glasertold Reuters in an interview.

Glaser declined to say what sort immediate of impact onrevenue the new streaming server would have, but said that the newsystem was one step in its plan to revive flagging corporatesales, which contributed to a 8.6 percent fall in earnings in thelatest quarter.

"Strategically, we think that the Helix initiative is greatfor our business," Glaser said.