Microrosoft Corp., unveiled two deals under which cable TV operators in Mexico and Israel will start testing its interactive television system, extending the computer software giant's foray into TV markets. News of the two deals follows a similar announcement in Lisbon, Portugal earlier on Friday where Microsoft made its first commercial deployment of Microsoft TV on Portugal's TV Cabo cable system, which has about 1 million subscribers.
Microsoft's TV platform allows cable TV subscribers with special digital set-top boxes to send and receive e-mails and conduct some commerce via their TV sets. It offers programme guides for news, sports, entertainment and other shows. Under one deal, Mexico's Grupo Televisa SA unit Cablevision will begin testing the Microsoft TV server and software using advanced, DCT5000 set-top boxes from Motorola Inc..
Cablevision hopes to begin the trial "later this year," with a goal of eventually upgrading 30 per cent of its subscriber base to the service. Microsoft and Cablevision expect to deploy at least 350,000 set-tops over the next three years, the companies said in a statement.
Microsoft has been touting its technology for the past couple of years in cable TV trade shows as it expands from core computer software products into consumer areas such as television and video games with its new Xbox game console.
Microsoft faces a battle in the interactive TV arena with competitors such as Liberate Technologies Inc., OpenTV Corp. and Canal Plus Technologies, a unit of entertainment giant Vivendi Universal which already enjoys a prominent market position. However, with the market for interactive TV services still very small, any time one of the players begins a new trial or deploys real systems into homes, it is seen by industry watchers as advancement.