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Microsoft Pushes TV Platform at Cable Show

Microsoft Corp. turned out in force at the Western Show 2001 cable industry show in Anaheim, Calif. Tuesday, ready to support its Microsoft TV platform, show how home networking can give network operators new revenue opportunities, and evangelize its vision for .NET within the iTV space.

The company kicked off the four day show with partner Pace Micro Technology Americas, showcasing Pace's di6000 set-top box, running Microsoft TV Advanced, and connected to Pace's Gateway Expander, a wireless base station providing two-way communication from and external broadband network to peripheral electronic devices connected internally to the home network.

"As interactive television evolves with the advent of new enhanced services, such as video on demand, e-commerce, multichannel video, gaming and targeted advertising, operators realize that real estate on the TV is fiercely competitive, creating an environment where some service offerings could very well cannibalize others," said Andy Trott, chief executive officer of the Networks & Connected Devices Division at Pace. "We see home networking as an essential key to allowing operators to expand their service offering beyond the television and maximize revenue opportunities through new, peripheral value-added services."

The Gateway Expander wirelessly connects to devices like a laptop PC or PDA, allowing those devices access to the Internet via the Gateway Expander's Ethernet connection to a DOCSIS/EuroDOCSIS integrated cable modem in the Di6000. Through the setup, consumers can use a laptop or PDA to browse the Internet and access streaming media and e-commerce without interrupting television viewing. The box also gives network operators the ability to offer advanced interactive services on the television itself, including pay-per-view, e-mail, home shopping, home banking and Web browsing. Other features include digital video recording and advanced electronic programming guides.

"This innovative wireless solution for the Microsoft TV platform underscores the joint commitment of Microsoft and Pace to bring next-generation iTV services to the home," said Jon DeVaan, senior vice president of the TV Division at Microsoft. "We're demonstrating our ability to deliver advanced iTV services to the marketplace, as well as showing network operators how they can extend their services beyond the television to generate additional revenue streams and increase customer loyalty."

The software giant also highlighted its recently strengthened relationship with Charter Communications Inc., which has selected the Microsoft TV platform to deliver iTV services to its customers. The company demonstrated a prototype of the Charter service, which includes streaming audio and video via Windows Media Player, e-mail, an electronic program guide and Web browsing and content services from digeo inc. The company also showcased real-world cable deployments, including iTV services from TV Cabo (Portugal), Matav (Israel) and Globo Cabo (Brazil).

Finally, the company expounded on its vision for .NET, using XML to build services for television, including SMS messaging, a unified inbox for voice and e-mail, instant messaging, a remotely accessible personal video recorder, even controls lights and climate control devices in the home.

"Through our .NET effort, we plan to enable a better way of building services for television -- the world's most ubiquitous device -- making it easier to integrate with existing business systems and popular consumer devices including handheld devices, mobile phones, PCs and more," DeVaan said. "By enabling consumers to access the same services, information and experiences from multiple devices via .NET, cable operators can leverage their normal development efforts and existing investments to create more engaged and loyal customers while increasing cash flow from these new services."