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Microsoft, Comcast Unleash New Interactive TV Software

11 Nov, 2004 Response This Week

REDMOND, Wash.,- Microsoft and Comcast announced Monday that their new digital software, Microsoft TV Foundation Edition, will finally deliver the interactive TV experience that they have been trying to bring to consumers for several years.
Comcast, the nation’s largest cable TV provider, agreed earlier this year to use Microsoft’s interactive software on up to 5 million set-top boxes. The new technology is expected to revolutionize the way average consumers buy and watch cable television. Customers will be able to choose what they want to watch when they want to watch it though digital cable offerings, such as video on demand (VOD), digital video recording (DVRs) and high definition television (HDTV), and Microsoft TV Foundation Edition will serve as the navigation device.
Microsoft adamantly tried to push itself into the television market for the better part of a decade with mediocre results. Consumers were not very receptive to Microsoft’s vision of interactive television that incorporated television with E-mail, Web surfing and E-commerce. Either the concept was too foreign or the hardware and services costs were too high.
“We got involved in TV-related software way too early, and we spent $500 (million) or $600 million before its time,” Chairman Bill Gates said in a speech in Berkeley, Calif., last month.
Now, Comcast will be offering the new service to 1 million cable customers in Washington, granting them access to digital cable services through Microsoft TV Foundation Edition software. This is a significant step for both corporations because it marks the first major rollout of the software in the United States.
“With this announcement, we’re taking our relationship with Microsoft to the next level, and we are glad to have Microsoft supporting us as we continue to roll out enhanced digital cable services to our customers,” said Mark Hess, senior vice president of digital television, Comcast.

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