A specification for streaming MPEG-4 video and audio via the Web has been released by a standards body that includes Apple.

The Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA) has announced that it has developed and published the ISMA 1.0, its first multimedia-streaming specification, that allows a plug-in to stream audio and video, instead of using a combination of programs.

Apple joined Cisco Systems, Kasenna, Philips and Sun Microsystems in founding the non-profit group last year.

Apple's QuickTime, Microsoft's Windows Media and RealNetworks' RealPlayer each commands a section of the multimedia streaming market.

MPEG-4 succeeds MP3 composed of MPEG-1, audio layer 3. MPEG-4 uses audio and video technologies that condense large digital files into smaller ones to be transferred over the Internet.

MPEG-4 is planned to replace MPEG-3 made popular through the file-swapping service Napster. Apple hopes the standard will boast QuickTime's popularity, which is second in popularity to Microsoft's MediaPlayer and RealPlayer.