Microsoft announced an update and renaming of its IPTV software platform. It now features additional multimedia capabilities, including in-home personal music and photo sharing (i.e. PC-TV features), picture-in-picture capabilities, development of interactive services and advanced applications, and digital TV support.
Microsoft also introduced a development toolkit with tools (company propaganda follows) “to create compelling, revenue-generating TV-based applications that run on the platform.”
IPTV apparently being too generic (you can’t copyright real-world or descriptive names; just ask one of the 40+ Ray’s Pizza shops in New York City), Microsoft renamed the package Microsoft Mediaroom. According to the press release:
- “In the highly competitive television market, a well-regarded brand can be a very strong asset,” said Christine Heckart, general manager of worldwide marketing for Microsoft TV. “By leveraging Microsoft Mediaroom as an ingredient brand, service providers can take advantage of the worldwide awareness, positive attributes and consumer preference for Microsoft-based solutions.”
OK, so apart from the marketing and branding efforts (always Microsoft’s strong points – a late friend of mine who once worked at the Microsoft mothership in Washington told me that there was one marketer for every code writer) what’s the value in Microsoft Mediaroom?
Being able to go PC-TV may be one step further on the road to the Golden Fleece of seamless PC-TV operability. It’s more competition for AppleTV and the other boxes and devices coming down the pike. Is it closer to the Joost model of “free” Internet TV with commercials than “pay” cable services?
Microsoft says more than 18 service providers (that’s a funny number – how many more than 18? 19? Must be, otherwise they would have said 20 or more than 20, no?) will use Mediaroom for their digital TV offerings. So far, though, only 10 (more than 9?) commercial deployments are underway.
Addendum: Two links in the MSFT press release to the Mediaroom and MicrosoftTV sites have a “Coming Soon” and “unable to service your request” landing pages. So, how ready is it?