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Microsoft Finally Gaining TV Traction

After spending more than seven years courting cable operators and telcos, including direct investments of over $8 billion in MSOs worldwide, not to mention hundreds of millions of dollars spent developing software, Microsoft Corp.'s massive push into the television space is finally starting to pay off. Today SBC Communications announced a 10-year $400-million TV deal with the software giant. Through the pact, SBC will deploy the Microsoft TV Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) Edition software platform to support its rollout of video services to 18 million U.S. homes over three years, mostly using DSL technology, an effort SBC has dubbed Project Lightspeed. SBC Labs has been testing Microsoft IPTV since June 2004. SBC says it will begin field trials in mid 2005 with commercial availability planned for late 2005. SBC's IP-based TV service will include instant channel changing, customizable channel lineups, video on demand, digital video recording and, multimedia interactive program guides. The deal with SBC followed an announcement last week that cable titan Comcast Corp. is starting a trial of Microsoft TV software with some 500,000 of its customers in Washington state. Comcast will test Microsoft's new "Foundation" software by downloading it into digital cable set-top boxes already deployed in customers' homes. New functionality enabled with the software, which is akin to a set-top box operating system, includes enhanced program guides, better on-screen promotion capabilities for the MSO, as well as basic interactive games and services.
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