Industry leaders support Microsoft TV plan

This support is a key component of Microsoft’s value-based strategy of delivering products that maximize the potential of digital television now and in the future for the cable industry.

Motorola, Inc. , SeaChange Concurrent Computer Corp., MetaTV Inc., Two Way TV Ltd. and Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB) Ltd. are working with Microsoft to extend the capabilities of the Microsoft TV Foundation platform. Unveiled today at The National Show, The National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s (NCTA’s) annual convention, Microsoft TV Foundation is a scalable digital TV software platform designed to help cable network operators get more value from on-demand and other digital television services using the hardware, systems and network infrastructure they have in place today. Microsoft TV Foundation and industry solutions will be demonstrated publicly for the first time in the Microsoft Booth 931.

In addition, Sigma Designs Inc. (Nasdaq “SIGM”), National Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE “NSM”) and selected application developers are working with Microsoft TV to develop future products and technologies for digital television.

“Microsoft is working with some of the best industry partners to bring cable operators solutions that will help us take television to a new level for consumers both now and down the road,” said Moshe Lichtman, corporate vice president of the Microsoft TV Division at Microsoft. “Together, we are working to help the industry get more value from its investments in digital cable and on-demand. When working with Microsoft, MSOs can take advantage of some of the best that the industry has to offer without sacrificing flexibility, thereby enabling greater agility and increased revenues per user.”

Microsoft TV Foundation Partners

Microsoft TV Foundation helps cable operators get more value out of video on demand (VOD) by enabling better merchandizing of VOD services through new On-Demand Storefronts that make it easy for viewers to buy a variety of video throughout the day. Microsoft TV Foundation also helps operators better manage on-demand and other digital television services with improved back-office integration, including support for two-way infrastructures, and new applications including games, enhanced targeting of ads and programming, and viewer self-provisioning. The platform is designed for the hardware and network infrastructure that multiple service operators (MSOs) have in place today, such as Motorola’s set-top platforms. Microsoft TV Foundation is currently in testing at Motorola’s Acadia Application Integration Center, under the Horizon Program, to be validated for use with Motorola DCT1700 and DCT2000 set-tops. The Motorola DCT2000 is the cable industry’s most widely-deployed digital set-top.

“Solutions like Microsoft TV Foundation help to enhance the TV-viewing experience for the millions of consumers that already have Motorola set-tops in their homes,” said Carl McGrath, corporate vice president and general manager, digital core gateways, for Motorola. “We are pleased to be working with Microsoft to further expand the breadth of solutions, while maximizing the value of our platforms for our customers.”

Microsoft also announced development and cooperation agreements with leading VOD providers SeaChange and Concurrent to integrate their VOD systems with Microsoft TV Foundation. Integrating these systems with the Microsoft TV Foundation platform provides network operators with further options for VOD deployments, packaging and promotion. Microsoft also has integrated the Microsoft TV Interactive Program Guide (IPG) with the SeaChange VOD system, the most widely deployed VOD system in North America. Microsoft TV IPG improves consumers’ digital television experience by providing rapid scrolling and channel tuning, making it faster, easier and more intuitive for users to find their favorite television shows and customize their television viewing.

“SeaChange helped enable cable’s on-demand rollouts by supporting an increasing array of deployment options,” said Yvette Gordon-Kanouff, corporate vice president of strategic planning for SeaChange. “Today no two MSOs’ VOD deployments are identical. Our VOD system was developed in anticipation of the continuous stream of new set-tops, network gear and software. Our work with Microsoft yet again underscores cable’s ongoing requirement for open VOD platforms that set the stage for choices like Microsoft TV.”

“Everything-On-Demand is escalating at a progressive pace, and Microsoft TV Foundation provides an integration framework that makes it easy to incorporate our MediaHawk On-Demand Platform for a compelling offering in an evolving market,” said Steve Necessary, president of Concurrent’s Xstreme (VOD) Division. “By integrating the Microsoft and Concurrent platforms, network operators have a seamless service at their disposal, enabling them to provide consumers with what they want: more control over their televisions, with enhanced functionality. We’re proud to partner in this effort with Microsoft, providing opportunities for operators to increase revenue, reduce churn and improve ROI with the delivery of the latest VOD services.”

Microsoft has chosen MetaTV to create the first implementation of managed content programs, including real-time news, sports and weather information, for Microsoft TV Foundation. As a result, MetaTV will be strategically positioned to deliver these programs to MSOs that deploy Microsoft TV Foundation.

“Microsoft and MetaTV are committed to helping network operators bring enhanced digital TV services to life with Microsoft TV Foundation,” said Irv Kalick, president and CEO of MetaTV. “Working together, we will help ensure that network operators can easily deploy digital TV services that utilize today’s technologies while building for tomorrow’s innovations.”

Two Way TV, an industry leader in developing games for interactive television, has worked with Microsoft TV to develop interactive game formats that take advantage of the power of Microsoft TV Foundation. These games demonstrate how Microsoft .NET technology can help deliver compelling entertainment experiences on thin-client set-top boxes.

ADB and Microsoft have teamed up at NCTA to showcase ADB’s Multimedia Home Platform (MHP)/OpenCable Applications (OCAP) solution along with Microsoft TV Foundation, running on Motorola’s powerful DCT2500 set-top. The demonstration shows how applications built on multiple authoring tools (including the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework TV Edition, included with Microsoft TV Foundation) can peacefully co-exist on the industry’s leading digital cable set-top manufacturer’s platform.

“This demonstration of ADB’s MHP/OCAP solution and Microsoft TV Foundation running on Motorola’s DCT2500 digital set-top box shows how applications based on multiple authoring tools can peacefully co-exist on a mainstream hardware platform,” said Bill Luehrs, corporate executive vice president and president, Americas, for ADB.

Future Technology Partners

As part of its long-term strategy to provide digital television solutions to the cable industry, Microsoft also is working with a growing list of silicon partners including Sigma Designs and National Semiconductor to deliver complete software and hardware solutions for the next generation of digital television products.

Sigma Designs will supply a key media processing component, the EM8605, for the hardware reference design that, when combined with Microsoft TV, will enable advanced audio and video processing in next-generation set-top boxes. The EM8605 allows hardware manufacturers to easily incorporate advanced services including high-definition television, multiple audiovisual stream processing, streaming video, progressive DVD playback, VOD, personal video recording and picture-in-picture functionality into their products.

“Sigma is proud to be working with Microsoft TV to bring these set-top box concepts to life,” said Ken Lowe, vice president of strategic marketing for Sigma Designs. “Our line of semiconductors and software, combined with the innovative software of Microsoft TV, promises to deliver a digital media experience to every room in the home.”

National Semiconductor is working with Microsoft to provide x86-based set-top box reference designs that have been optimized to support future digital television experiences. The reference design is intended to optimize power, performance and price for the industry’s most demanding multimedia needs.

National Semiconductor’s Geode technology is a family of silicon, software and encryption products designed to provide powerful solutions for all secure multimedia applications in and around the home.

“The Geode family enables our software partners like Microsoft to bring the most compelling solution to market,” said Paul McCormick, Set-Top Box Group Manager of National Semiconductor. “National Semiconductor and Microsoft TV will make it easy and efficient for the cable industry to deploy next-generation digital TV, and we’re glad to be a partner in this effort.”

Microsoft TV continues to work with a range of content and application partners from across the digital television industry through the Microsoft TV Developer Program. For example, Ciberbit – Produções de Software, SA is working with Microsoft TV to create multiplayer games for future TV devices. Ciberbit’s games exploit the power of the Microsoft .NET Framework to deliver a compelling and entertaining user experience for television.

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