Microsoft meets the IPG

Microsoft TV is getting into the interactive-program-guide business with the introduction of Microsoft TV IPG at the NCTA convention.

"The guide is one of the biggest challenges for operators," says Ed Gracyzk, Microsoft TV Group director of marketing and communications. "IPGs get the worst feedback from consumers." Gemstar-TV Guide dominates the market, its guide carried in 15 million homes. The market could help Microsoft TV get a foothold in cable plants, leading to broader acceptance of the Microsoft TV interactive middleware.

The guide is a thin-client guide able to operate on Motorola 1000 and 1200 level set-top boxes as well as the 2000. The IPG's look can be customized by the MSO. Big differences from the Gemstar-TV Guide system include a patent-pending technology called progressive update, which speeds navigating by refreshing only the top three channels, updating information for the others only when the user stops scrolling. A search feature with an on-screen keyboard enables title or show-description searches.