Windows Media Audio

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Windows Media Audio (WMA) is an audio data compression technology developed by Microsoft. The name can be used to refer to its audio file format or its audio codecs. It is a proprietary technology that forms part of the Windows Media framework. WMA consists of four distinct codecs. The original WMA codec, known simply as WMA, was conceived as a competitor to the popular MP3 and RealAudio codecs.[1][2] WMA Pro, a newer and more advanced codec, supports multichannel and high resolution audio.[3] A lossless codec, WMA Lossless, compresses audio data without loss of audio fidelity (the regular WMA format is not lossless).[3] And WMA Voice, targeted at voice content, applies compression using a range of low bit rates.[3]


Development history

The first WMA codec was based on earlier work by Henrique Malvar and his team which was transferred to the Windows Media team at Microsoft.[4] Malvar was a senior researcher and manager of the Signal Processing Group at Microsoft Research,[5] whose team worked on the MSAudio project.[6] The first finalized codec was initially referred to as MSAudio 4.0.[7][8] It was later officially released as Windows Media Audio,[9] as part of Windows Media Technologies 4.0. Microsoft claimed that WMA could produce files that were half the size of equivalent-quality MP3 files;[10] Microsoft also claimed that WMA delivered "near CD-quality" audio at 64 kbit/s.[10] The former claim however was rejected by some audiophiles.[11] RealNetworks also challenged Microsoft's claims regarding WMA's superior audio quality compared to RealAudio.[2]

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