[Speex-dev] Microsoft RTAudio

Peter Saint-Andre stpeter at stpeter.im
Tue Sep 4 14:18:04 PDT 2007

B. Mitchell Loebel wrote:
> Hello Jean:

Hello B. Mitchell.

> Big mistake!!

Big mistake to stir up a hornet's nest of political discussion. :)

But I don't think Jean-Marc's message was in fact political, as I'll
show below.

> One of the three things that a supplier should never discuss is politics
> ... that's business 101.

But it's ok for customers? ;-)

> Speex may be a very good product, 

Speex is not a product, it is a free codec (free as in speech, free as
in beer). Codecs and protocols are not products.

> but we will never use it because of
> the politics that you espouse ... 

No one is forcing you to use anything. In fact if you are using Google
Talk and many other VoIP services, you may already be using Speex.

Would you use still HTTP if you knew that Tim Berners-Lee was a closet
anarchist or whatever? The technology stands and falls on its own
merits. The politics of its creator is immaterial. In fact, if you think
it's necessary to research the politics of a technology creator before
deciding to use that technology, you introduce a factor that is quite
outside usual capitalist reasoning, and (given the web of dependencies
involved in any modern technology) impossible to implement. So much for
Business 101.

> some of us out here believe strongly
> in the free market. 

We don't have a free market, we have a mixed economy.

> And we also know that monopolies can't exist because
> entrepreneurs will always exploit the inevitable market openings left by
> another supplier 

In a completely free society based on the rule of law, yes. Our current
society is far from that ideal.

> ... in this case Microsoft. In fact, Speex's success is
> proof of the statement I just made ... nevermind the rantings of left
> wing academics who typically have no real world business experience!

Nothing like insulting your potential supplier. Business 101?

Now I will proceed to show why Jean-Marc's message was not a left-wing
rant in the first place...

> At 09:38 PM 8/31/2007 +1000, Jean-Marc Valin wrote:
>> > Just wondered what your thoughts are on Microsoft's RTAudio codec
>> > that they use in their Unified Communications stuff:
>> >
>> http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=5D79B584-79C9-42A8-90C4-4AB3F03D19C4&displaylang=en
>> The document is interesting... So it took them 6 years to come up with a
>> codec that has almost the same structure as Speex (sub-band CELP --
>> can't tell what codebooks they're using), almost 1/5 of the modes
>> supported and $35,000 more expensive. Looks like a great codec indeed
>> (OK, I haven't actually found any samples to tell the quality).

Politics? No, just noting how long it has taken a large, well-funded
company to produce a good-quality when they just could have used Speex
years ago. Seems rather wasteful, no?

>> > They let people license it to use in their own products. I couldn't
>> > find any sample clips of RTAudio encoded speech. Apart from being
>> > $35000 less expensive, does anyone have any other reasons as to why
>> > Speex is better?
>> That's a tough one. Let me think...
>> - Because it's an open standard

Politics? No, just noting that all else being equal, open standards are
better than closed proprietary technologies. No vendor lock-in. No odd
changes that result in incompatibilities. Greater stability. Etc.

>> - Because it's not from Microsoft

See above on vendor lock-in and incompatibilities.

>> - Because you can do whatever you like with it

Freedom is good. I guess that's politics. But a left-wing rant? I think
not. You can wrap yourself in the American flag with consumer freedom.

>> - Because it's not from a convicted monopolist

Yes, this one verges on politics. But it is true that Microsoft was
convicted of monopolistic practices both in America and in the EU.
Whether you agree with the verdicts or the underlying laws is another

>> - Because it supports 8 rates in narrowband and 11 in wideband

Politics? Nope, just technical features.

>> - Because it's not from a company that is known for killing
>> compatibility every few years to force upgrade

See above on incompatibilities and stability.

>> - Because it's very flexible

Extensibility and flexibility are good technical features.

>> - Because I wrote it, so it must be good :-)

Aha, here is a political statement. :)


Peter Saint-Andre

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