Microsoft Licenses RT Audio Codec and launches new QoS Monitoring Tool

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Microsoft Licenses RT Audio Codec and launches new QoS Monitoring Tool

I believe I was the first to break the story about Microsoft's RT codecs called RT Audio and RT Video. At the very least, I was the first to stress the importance of Microsoft offering two forward error correction codecs when I wrote "Microsoft's Secret Codec Weapon? One fact that hasn't gotten any attention from the mainstream media (& tech media) coverage of OCS 2007 is the VoIP and video codec Microsoft is using. During my conversation with Microsoft they kept talking about how Office Communicator's VoIP works well not only in broadband environments, but also in limited bandwidth narrowband environments, i.e. dial-up -- and even on Windows Mobile 5 devices."

In the article I explained how Microsoft stressed how their codec works well even with high packet loss due to Forward Error Correction (FEC) and other algorithms. I inquired whose codec they were using and they said that they developed it themselves. I was surprised since there are at least two well-known adaptive VoIP codecs available, including Spirit DSP, and Global IP Sound (GIPS), which is used by Skype, Google Talk, and a plethora of other softphones.

I asked Microsoft if they had plans to license RT Audio and/or RT Video to softphones or SIP phones. Their coy response indicated that was indeed in the works. Well today, Microsoft is announcing that Intel, Texas Instruments, AudioCodes, Dialogic, LG Nortel and Polycom will license Microsoft’s RT Audio Codec. As I've written before, Psytechnics tested the Microsoft RT Audio codec and stated it delivers superior sound quality.

So now not only will your desktop PC run on Microsoft software, but so will your desktop phone. [Insert your Microsoft crashing your phone joke here. ] But in all seriousness, I've done some preliminary tests of both RT Audio and RT Video while testing both Office Live Meeting 2007 and Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 (with the Communicator softphone client) and I've been very impressed with the quality. I plan on using Shunra or some other tool to inject some packet loss, latency and jitter and see how well the codec handles poor network conditions. Microsoft plans to target the RT Audio Codec in an array of solutions like audio conferencing, video, wireless over IP and games. Speaking of games, I meant to ask Microsoft if the RT Audio Codec is going to be rolled into XBox Live for better high-quality trash VoIPing of your gaming buddies. Update: XBox Live does indeed use the RT Audio codec!

Anyway, the other big news also announced is the Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 Quality of Experience Monitoring Server, a comprehensive tool to monitor voice and video quality. IT administrators can use the Quality of Experience (QoE) Monitoring Server to quickly troubleshoot voice and video performance issues, enabling them to effectively implement and manage solutions that provide superior audio quality. The server provides real-time updates, alerts and detailed analysis of the network performance to accurately reflect a user’s experience based on the endpoint they’re using. As a result, administrators can proactively address problematic issues that may arise while monitoring voice and video quality anywhere and anytime without requiring expensive, network management solutions. More information is available here.

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