Sunday, June 17, 2007

Microsoft Unveils New Version Of IPTV Platform

And a very BIG Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!

June 18, 2007: 12:16 AM EST
NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) unveiled the latest version of its Internet television software platform, which it promises will offer features that will set the telecommunications companies apart from the cable providers.
The Redmond, Wash., software titan is the key vendor to the highest- profile Internet protocol television, or IPTV, deployment in the nation: AT&T Inc.'s (T) U-verse service. But the rollout has met with frequent hiccups, and Microsoft has largely been blamed for the problems.
Microsoft is changing the name of the platform to Microsoft Mediaroom from Microsoft TV IPTV Edition. It's the third version of the software platform. With the latest edition, the company believes its problems are behind it.
"It's all brand-new technology," said Microsoft spokesman Jim Brady. "All that fine-tuning is behind us. Now the platform will really start to flex its muscles and show its capabilities."
Microsoft unveiled the new version of the platform Monday at the NXTcomm telecom industry trade show.
Microsoft's carrier customers will start installing the new version over the next few months. AT&T is spending $4.6 billion to upgrade parts of its network with fiber-optic lines, which enable the delivery of U-verse.
AT&T's IPTV deployment is seen as an indicator of where future rollouts from other telecom companies will go. Qwest Communications International Inc. (Q), among others, is looking to AT&T as a trailblazer in the area.
The appeal of IPTV is the ability to layer upon the basic television service additional features that could give it a significant edge over the traditional cable providers. Cable companies have been steadily encroaching on the telecom companies' phone business, forcing them to fight back with a competitive television offering.
Among the new features is a personal media-sharing function that allows consumers to view digital photos or listen to music stored on personal computers around the home. The feature, however, won't run copy-protected files, so songs downloaded from Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iTunes store can't be played.
Another feature is the use of multiple angles on programs such as sporting events - angles that consumers can control via their remote. The multiple-angle viewing option extends to different channels.
It also allows the television to access Web-based services and programs, potentially leading to the development of video-on-demand portals or video games.
Mediaroom also opens the platform up to third-party vendors looking to create new features and services for the carrier.

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