ATI, Microsoft Prepping HD CableCard

Microsoft and ATI have announced plans to bring out new high-definition television receivers for PCs based on the CableCard standard, so Windows computers acting as a media center will be able to tune into premium HD content available over cable services. For the time being, media center users either have to receive HD programming via terrestrial broadcast, or a “downsized” version received by connecting their HD equipment to their PCs using S-video.

Microsoft and ATI haven’t given the product a name yet (ATI has been referring to it with the sweet moniker “OCUR PC receiver”), but will be designed to work with any cable television system in North America, enabling users to receive both traditional analog television and over-the-air HD transmission in addition to premium HD content available on cable systems.

Although the technology is mandated by the FCC, CableCard technology isn’t much-loved by cable companies because the 1.0 version does not enable the two-way communication necessary for selling pay-per-view movies or driving video-on-demand services. However, these days cable companies are often bundling high-definition television services with broadband Internet offerings, effectively creating an upstream data connection from their subscriber