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Microsoft Rebrands Internet Television Platform

Formerly Microsoft IPTV, the upgrade includes several enhancements, such as the ability to listen to music and view photos stored on PCs elsewhere in the home on the TV.

Microsoft on Monday rebranded its Internet TV platform and introduced several new features that include the ability to access PC-stored photos and music through a TV.

Microsoft introduced Mediaroom, formerly Microsoft IPTV, at the NXTcomm conference in Chicago. Along with enhancing the platform, Microsoft introduced for service providers and third-party developers an application development toolkit to help in building interactive services. The improved product also supports digital terrestrial television, which is important in European markets.

DTT, which is still used extensively in Europe, is the ability to receive over-the-air programming, which is typically free and carries mostly local programming. By adding support for DTT, services providers, particularly telephone companies offering IPTV over DSL, can include DTT along with paid services over a digital video recorder, In-Stat analyst Michelle Abraham said.

The enhancements include the ability to listen to music and view photos stored on PCs elsewhere in the home on the TV. In addition, consumers can see multiple programs on one screen. The new features reflect how Microsoft is shifting its focus from helping service providers roll out the platform in digital video recorders to enhancing the product, Abraham said.

Microsoft's major IPTV partners, which include AT&T, BT Group, and Deutsche Telekom, did not start distributing the platform until last year. "I expect to see even more enhancements coming from Microsoft in the future," Abraham said. Among the expected features is the ability to distribute programming from a DVR to multiple televisions in the home.

Microsoft Mediaroom is a reflection of the TV industry's movement toward providing subscribers with an interactive experience by adding Internet applications and services.

By 2010, the number of subscribers to Internet TV worldwide is expected to increase 12-fold to 63.1 million people, according to iSuppli.

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