"There's a need in the marketplace for a robust technical burning package," says Roxio's Mike Dilley, a product manager for the CeQuadrat WinOnCD line. "Creator is a great consumer-oriented product, but there's a pent-up demand to do more with CD burning." He believes WinOnCD 5 will satisfy that demand, offering sophisticated features like VideoCD "albums" combining audio tracks and video content, interactive VideoCDs with "DVD-like front ends," nested directories for MP3 CDs with hundreds of individual songs, a sophisticated audio editor, built-in MPEG transcoding from other video formats, and a CD/DVD Emulator for previewing disc images before burning them to CD or DVD.
Describing WinOnCD as "more flexible and more technical" than Easy CD Creator and other tools in the U.S. market, Dilley says the product was developed for "the customer who puts a premium on greater control over settings and options, and a greater level of interactivity." Thus, it incorporates features suited to the sophisticated hobbyist, like its MP3 and slideshow capabilities, as well as professional elements like Bootable CD and DVD and the ability to specify where files are burned physically on a CD. Dilley, says, "WinOnCD goes beyond the hobbyist to the real technical user who wants the next level of sophistication."
Version 5 also offers Data OverSpan, which enables users to burn over-700MB datasets across multiple CDs for hard disk backups and the like. During playback, the OverSpan application will then "unpack" the data and re-assemble it as it was before. Roxio also highlights the product's sound editing capabilities. A single click away from the main disc-building window, the sound editor allows the user to highlight a section of a Waveform and apply effects to it as desired without changing the rest of the track. Users can also cut and paste selected bits of tracks at will.
While Easy CD Creator has gained much of its exposure and market presence through bundling partnerships with CD recorder manufacturers, Roxio has no plans to market WinOnCD 5 as an OEM product. Consequently, there will be only one version of WinOnCD 5, the "Power Edition" that shipped in Europe in September and in North America in October with a U.S. MSRP of $49.95.
When Roxio acquired CeQuadrat in 1999, there was some speculation that the company would integrate discrete features of WinOnCD (then in version 3.6) into Easy CD Creator and unify the two tools as a hybrid product. After all, upon acquiring Incat's EasyCD Pro and Corel's CD Creator, Roxio (then Adaptec) had merged those products' signature strengths—EasyCD Pro's powerful recording engine and CD Creator's ground-breaking ease of use—into a single tool. Over time, however, Roxio's strategy in the CeQuadrat acquisition became clear: to maintain the products' independence, and leverage WinOnCD's popularity in European sectors to establish market dominance on both sides of the Atlantic.
Now, as that strategy has evolved to re-establish WinOnCD stateside, have their hybridization plans changed? "We have no plans to merge WinOnCD and Creator," Dilley says. "Cross-pollination, integrating some of the best features from each product into the other—that's more likely," he continues. "For example, we're investigating Overspan for future versions of Creator, and some functions in a more streamlined way."
But for now, the products—and their target users (not to mention their brands)—remain distinct: "I can go from nothing to a finished CD very quickly in Creator," Dilley says. "But if I want Overspan, interactive Super VideoCD, or to specify where things go on a disc—then WinOnCD is my product."
—Stephen F. Nathans