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RealTime IT News

Microsoft to Digital TV: Testing 1-2-3

In an effort to kick start the digital TV market, Microsoft Corp. Monday said it was offering developers the chance to test enhanced content on Motorola Inc. set-top boxes through a new TV Content Builder Initiative (CBI).

Announced at the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) 2001 Conference in Las Vegas, Nev., the strategy is aimed to push the growth of enhanced TV by allowing developers to test the products before they hit the consumer market. Financial terms were not made public.

However, the consumers aren't the only people the software giant had in mind. Microsoft also said the new CBI would help its own developers to create solutions for its set-top box platform. In turn, Motorola's high-tech DCT-5000+ will receive countless exposure by the developers who participate in CBI.

The Motorola DCT-5000+ advanced set-top box will enable CBI participants to view and assess their programming in the same way that consumers will experience it when Microsoft TV-powered broadband services are deployed by cable, terrestrial and satellite TV system operators.

And, as is usually the case when Microsoft launches a new program, the giant has secured a slew of participants for CBI.

Perhaps the most important are four partnerships that run the gamut of television entertainment: Discovery Science Channel, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions and PushyBroad, Scripps and Beyond Z Interactive Media and DTN Weather Services.

Joining Microsoft and the production companies will be AGENCY.COM, Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc., ARTiFACT, Cinema Entertainment Group, Cylo, E!Networks, FolksNetwork Inc., InfoSpace, Intellocity, MerlinTV.com, MetaTV Inc., Mixed Signals Technologies, Razorfish, RespondTV, Roundpeg.com, Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment, Tractor, Traffic 411, Screamingly Different Entertainment, SpinTV, Steeplechase Media Inc. and The Weather Channel.

Alan Yates, vice president of sales and marketing at Microsoft TV, said industrialists should not underestimate the importance of CBI.

"...Companies joining the program have access to the resources and materials they need to deploy enhanced TV programming and services," Yates said. "The CBI and the Motorola system show developers how their enhanced TV content performs on a real broadband system before it's deployed."

Those interested in joining the Content Builder Initiative may refer to Microsoft's Content Builder Program.

Or, for a demo of what Microsoft does with digital TV, Microsoft will show demo enhanced TV with some of the CBI participants during NATPE at the Microsoft TV suite on Wednesday, Jan. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.