RealNetworks opens up.
October 29, 2002 10:36 AM   Subscribe

RealNetworks opens up. RealNetworks today launched the Helix Community which provides the source code to its RealPlayer client (the server and encoding components are coming later). This will present the first end-to-end open source media delivery system- Apple has open sourced its streaming server, but not its clients or codecs; Microsoft's Windows Media platform is totally closed. Marketing ploy or real step forward for the software industry?
posted by mkultra (22 comments total)
Does this mean that I will soon be able to see open source advertisements?
posted by mildred-pitt at 10:49 AM on October 29, 2002

Fun article on Salon.
posted by four panels at 10:55 AM on October 29, 2002

I'd been given to understand that Real's codecs were not actually opened... closed libraries for the codecs are available, and open source framework for the actual player app (Helix) is distributed. If I'm wrong, please correct me and I will feel happy. : )

``Real is using open source theatrics to try to change the perception among the developer community that they are hard to work with and too restrictive in their licensing terms,'' said Michael Aldridge, lead product manager of Microsoft's Windows Digital Media"

As opposed to, say, Microsoft?

How long do you think it will be before just about the entire human population evolves PR-BS detectors...
posted by namespan at 10:55 AM on October 29, 2002

Marketing ploy. Real is losing share to MS, and they'll do anything to hedge the bleed.
posted by owillis at 11:05 AM on October 29, 2002

namespan- The Helix DNA Producer is the encoding component, and will apparently be available under the same license. I was pretty amazed by that, too- it's the one part I expected them to keep private.

One thing to remember- the licensing terms make clear that if you're using the stuff in a commercial setting, you're going to have to pay royalties.
posted by mkultra at 11:06 AM on October 29, 2002

If this means a real-player client that doesn't do evil and wrong things behind my back, then I'm all for it.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:09 AM on October 29, 2002

I do not love Real Player.
posted by Modem Ovary at 11:16 AM on October 29, 2002

Metafilter: Hedge the bleed.

Okay, it doesn't make much sense, but it just sounds TOO cool.
posted by rushmc at 11:17 AM on October 29, 2002

I don't like Real, I hate that it if I run it once, it insists on autostarting the next time I reboot. What's worse is now Apple is making Quicktime do the same, and if I disable qttask, the IE plugin won't work.

Sorry to derail this thread, but I absolutely hate apps that insist on preloading when the operating system is done booting, the only exception being IE, I like IE, it's ok when apps I need to run do it, but media players like Real, Quicktime, Winamp, etc do not need to preload right away.
posted by riffola at 11:17 AM on October 29, 2002

MetaFilter: Bleed the hedge
It's more apt.
posted by riffola at 11:18 AM on October 29, 2002

Wow. This is great. My subjective impression has been that the Real codecs are technically inferior to windows media, quicktime, and mpeg, but the one factor that prevented me from ever downloading any Real-encoded files has been the utter disaster of a player that Real provided. Quicktime is not much better, but at least it doesn't rain spyware and adware on you, and Real's UI is the least usable of all major players I've seen.

But if this is what I think it is, then Real can become just another standard codec library, usable by any player that supports codec frameworks on any platform. Nice! Now if only I could do the same thing with Quicktime...
posted by azazello at 11:26 AM on October 29, 2002

I have four media players installed on my PC: Winamp, Quicktime, RealOne, and Windows Media. No matter how hard I try to keep my file associations straight, Windows Media keeps taking over and playing files that I would prefer to hear through Winamp.

I never even installed the damn thing, it came preinstalled, and the EULA says that MS can update it without my permission whenever it wants.

Real has no chance whatsoever without help from the courts.

But even though they're not the Evil Empire, Real is not much better. It took me a lot of effort to get RealOne to stop sending me spam and popping up messages (it behaves just like spyware).
posted by fuzz at 12:23 PM on October 29, 2002

If everybody'd use MPEG-4 (and not some bastardized DiVX version of it) we wouldn't need any of this one-upsmanship. Real claimed it would support MPEG-4 and SMIL so why isn't it being used/promoted more? I know why MS won't use it.

This is just corporate maneuvering by Real.
posted by infowar at 12:48 PM on October 29, 2002

I agree, infowar, real MPEG-4 support from everyone would be nice. Unfortunately, DivX ;-) got there first, and that's all that matters. It will forever be the MP3 of video.

And boy, do I hate that stupid l33t-sp34k name they have.
posted by Potsy at 1:03 PM on October 29, 2002

I like what Apple is doing with their Quicktime Broadcaster and streaming server solution. This stuff, along with a DV camera, a powerbook and a wireless solution has the potential to really give people the ability to do something new. And it doesn't cost anything for the software, even if you're using it to make money. Apple doesn't even care if you use theeir OS / hardware on the streaming side.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:20 PM on October 29, 2002

Potsy- DivX is a hacked version of an old Microsoft codec, and will hopefully die the death it deserves once people realize it's not, in the end, really all that good and pretty much not updateable. 3vix and MPEG-4 are where things are going.

Space Coyote- yeah, you can stream live for the cost of the hardware, but if you want to use the streaming server for on-demand stuff, you still need to encode your content as Quicktime, which is where the licensing fees come in.
posted by mkultra at 1:49 PM on October 29, 2002

A Little-Known Real Player Behavior Modification:

The RealOne player autostart (including the notoriously bad-mannered file-type hijacking) may be disabled, along with the adware message center, by renaming or deleting the following folder:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Real\Update_OB

or deleting the files in that folder named evntsvc.exe and tkbell.exe. For good measure you should also start MSCONFIG, switch to the Startup tab, and uncheck the entry for TKBell (which is the application which pings the Real servers for ads and update prompts). If any of these refuse due to in-use files, reboot in safe mode and do it there.

Some sources say that Real is able to later reinstall these files, perhaps when you download new codecs. More.
posted by dhartung at 2:11 PM on October 29, 2002

Space Coyote: Hardly new, we've been doing that with Microsoft's Stream Encoder, a notebook, and a wireless connection for over a year now. So, sorry, as much as I'm loathe to admit it, Microsoft was first to cross the finish line here.
posted by tsitzlar at 2:27 PM on October 29, 2002

mkultra: DivX 3.11 was/is a hacked up MS codec, but versions 4 and 5 are not. When I say that it will "forever" be the MP3 of video, I'm just going by what I see out there. Other than demos, I've not encountered any 3vix or MPEG-4 content anywhere. Even DivX 5 seems to be slow in getting adopted vs. DivX 3.11. I still encounter a lot of new content in DivX 3.11.
posted by Potsy at 8:19 PM on October 29, 2002

Thanks dhartung!
posted by fuzz at 12:47 AM on October 30, 2002

The one good thing about open-sourcing the player (and producer soon) is that other developers can create ports to operating systems and devices that are not supported directly by Real.

As for preference, I go back and forth between Windows Media and Real. I start liking one for a while, then it does something to annoy me. QuickTime has excellent quality video, but with the player is not so widely deployed as the other two.
posted by MediaMan at 8:13 AM on October 30, 2002

One other point... Real announced the Helix Community initiative back in July.
posted by MediaMan at 8:15 AM on October 30, 2002

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