Microsoft: 1 Million IPTV Set-Tops Served

LAS VEGAS – Microsoft, hoping to demonstrate that its Mediaroom Internet Protocol TV system has passed a vital milestone, is expected to announce that its IPTV software now serves up programming to 1 million set-top boxes around the world.

At the Consumer Electronics Show here, Microsoft will feature demonstrations intended to show how the IP-based TV system enables new kinds of applications. “The TV is really the only major digital device that’s been left out of the networking revolution,” said Jim Brady, communications manager for the Microsoft TV unit.

More than 20 service providers in 18 countries have deployed or are testing out Mediaroom, according to Microsoft. The 14 customers that have gone live with the IPTV software include AT&T in the United States – which has publicly cited having some technical issues with the Microsoft software – and BT in the United Kingdom.

Brady said at the current growth rate, Microsoft’s Mediaroom is adding two new subscribers every minute and is on pace to have 1 million subscriber homes in the first calendar quarter of 2008.

At CES, Microsoft is teaming with Showtime Networks and Turner Broadcasting System to show new interactive TV applications on Mediaroom. TNT’s NASCAR application, for example, lets race viewers to choose among multiple in-car camera angles and audio. Similarly, Showtime’s interactive boxing application provides several different audio feeds and camera angles.

An interactive CNN election coverage application, meanwhile, will deliver real-time news and commentary and include video-on-demand and polling features, Brady said: “It brings a bit of the online experience to the TV.”

In another demonstration, Microsoft will show “MyPad,” an application to let a user could access a social-networking site to access photos, music and information from their TV, developed with interactive-advertising developer eMuse.

Microsoft also will highlight a key new feature for Mediaroom -- whole-home DVR. The DVR Anywhere feature allows a primary IPTV set-top to deliver recorded video to other boxes throughout a house, using the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) specification.

“It’s through the underlying IP technology that we’re able to deliver a lot of these advanced, compelling TV experiences to our service provider partners,” Brady said.

Finally, Microsoft will announce a partnership with Broadcom, which is incorporating the Microsoft IPTV client software on the Broadcom BCM7405 system-on-a-chip for set-top boxes. Previously, Sigma Designs was the only silicon supplier for Microsoft-based IPTV set-tops.

“BT is very happy to see Broadcom join the Microsoft Mediaroom ecosystem of suppliers,” BT Vision director of technology strategy and development Richard Griffiths said, in a prepared statement. “The 7405 [system on a chip] will enable us to offer our customers even more powerful applications and services on their TV through the BT Vision V-box.”