Microsoft and Dolby Laboratories said they intend to bring "high-quality" Dolby Surround Sound audio to personal computers, adding a "new dimension" to interactive PC software. This follows another agreement aligning Dolby with Altec Lansing Technologies.
Microsoft and Dolby signed a letter of intent to jointly develop technologies and specifications to support the use of Dolby's theatre-based sound systems, including Dolby digital AC-3 technology to decode multichannel audio for use by six-speaker Surround Sound stereo systems.
The companies made the announcement and demonstrated the technology at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC 96). The two companies demonstrated a digital video disk ROM (DVD-ROM) movie clip on a PC using the Microsoft ActiveMovie API (application programming interface) and Dolby digital AC-3 technology.
"The PC is about to take on a new, starring role in the home as a leading entertainment device, and our agreement with Microsoft is a major step towards making that happen," said Ed Schummer, vice-president at Dolby. "Microsoft's vision is compelling and exciting, and we're delighted to participate in making it happen.
"Bringing the PC to the home entertainment centre requires giving it the best possible audio abilities," said Carl Stork, director of Windows platforms at Microsoft. "With the support of Dolby, the leader in quality audio standards, we're working to make that happen."
The announcement came a week later than the alliance between Dolby and Altec Lansing Technologies. Andrew Bergstein, an engineer with Altec Lansing, told ARN, "These alliances are going to bring something new to the PC. Dolby brings true surround sound which comes through six separate channels. Previous alternatives have offered only a pretend surround sound, which simply tries to fool the ear into believing it is surrounded by sound.
"Now, with Dolby technology, a computer game or other computer-generated entertainment can have the same high-quality sound that a movie can with a high-quality home theatre system," said Bergstein. "If a plane is flying over head, the sound will physically move from one speaker channel to another."