LET'S FACE IT: SURFING THE Web can be disappointing, especially to jaded PC owners used to glitzy graphics and multimedia-packed CD-ROMs. For now, about the best you can do--without downloading and replaying material offline--is to try programs such as Sun Microsystems' Java, which can embed animated icons and other primitive multimedia elements in Web pages.

Now, the Web could be in for a major infusion of lively content. Narrative Communications Corp., a Waltham (Mass.) startup, has developed software that it says can bring CD-ROM-quality sound, animation, and graphics to the Web. The product, called Enliven, uses a unique two-step compression process to convert animated CD-ROM titles into a format that can be broadcast, or ``streamed,'' over the Web to your PC. The result is delivery so speedy, Narrative says, that you may think the multimedia material is coming off your CD drive. While a typical 2.5-megabyte file would take nearly 10 minutes to download at 28,800 bits per second, using Enliven, you can get the first bit of programming after 40 seconds, and the rest will follow in a continuous stream.

Narrative plans to market Enliven to software and content makers (pricing isn't set yet) who then can use it to sell or rent multimedia programming directly over the Net. On the receiving end, all you need is the free Enliven ``player.'' Test versions of the software will be available starting on May 28 at



Updated June 14, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1996, Bloomberg L.P.
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