With IPTV ramping up and likely to be one of the hottest focal points at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in January, INTERNET TELEPHONY thought it was a good time to sit down with Ed Graczyk, director of marketing and communications for Microsoft TV, to learn more about the software giantï¿½s plans. We began by asking him some ï¿½big pictureï¿½ questions about Microsoftï¿½s overarching strategy behind IPTV:
1. Given the extent of your reach with
Windowsï¿½, does Microsoft envision
the personal computer as the primary
engine to power IPTV, or is it the
set-top box (STB)?
The entertainment landscape is definitely
changing. With the advent of
System on a Chip (SOC) devices, electronic
devices, such as set-top boxes and
even TV, can have the connectivity of
the PC. Right now, we are focusing on
the SOC STB as the hardware platform
for IPTV Edition. However, as our
vision evolves and connected entertainment
scenarios become a reality, this
2. Who are some of the STB partners
that make up the Microsoft TV IPTV
Our goal is to work with the leading
providers in every layer of the IPTV
ecosystem in order to give service
provider customers the flexibility they
need. That is why in the set-top box
space we are partnering with Cisco
(Linksys-KISS and Scientific-Atlanta),
Motorola (News - Alert), Philips, Tatung, and Thomson.
3. Is Microsoftï¿½s strategy for IPTV
Edition entirely software dependent?
Or are there any development efforts
with the hardware or embedded
Microsoft TVï¿½s IPTV Edition platform
is an end-to-end solution.
However, in order to be deployed, IPTV
needs an entire ecosystem of partners,
from set-top box manufacturers to system
on a chip vendors to encoding
4. According to recent press reports*,
marquee customer Verizon (News - Alert)
Communications has experienced
some technical glitches with
Microsoftï¿½s IPTV platform. How has
Microsoft addressed that and have
other customers, like AT&T, experienced
One of the advantages of Microsoft
TV is that it enables service providers to
develop their own applications on top
of the platform, and that is exactly what
Verizon is doing. Itï¿½s always been part of
the strategy. Weï¿½re proud of our progress
with Verizon, which has the broadest
deployment of pay-TV services of any
U.S. RBOC today. The service is being
well received by consumers and is now
available in approximately 60 markets
across seven states since launching in
AT&T and our other customers are
progressing quite well.
ï¿½ AT&T has been successfully deploying
in San Antonio since December
2005 and plans to bring TV services
to 15-20 additional markets by the
end of 2006.
ï¿½ T-Online Germany began commercial
deployment of IPTV services in
ï¿½ Club Internet (T-Online France) is
available today across France.
ï¿½ You can expect more exciting news
to come from our customers over
the next several weeks.
5. How does the IPTV set-top box tie
into unified communications and connected
The connectivity that IPTV enables
will make the TV viewing experience
much more interactive. The analogy we
like to use is that with IPTV, TV stops
being just an island in the living room,
and instead becomes a key two-way communication
device. You will be able, for
instance, to watch TV, chat with your
friends, or see Caller ID alerts when the
phone rings. It is all part of our longterm
vision for a unified communication
and connected entertainment strategy.
6. How does Microsoft plan to
address the wireless/mobility dimension
or incorporate IPTV into a
quadruple play strategy?
We think that with IPTV, we are well
beyond the triple or quadruple play.
Instead, IPTV enables connectivity
between all communication and entertainment
devices and allows service
providers to offer unlimited new services.
We actually prefer to refer to the current
paradigm shift as ï¿½the single play.ï¿½
Regardless of the terminology, however,
the mobile dimension is definitely part of
this vision for the single play. However,
our approach has been to ï¿½Start Small,
Think Big, Move Fast.ï¿½ In order to make
the single play a reality and enhance it
with mobile scenarios, we need to start
by delivering better TV today. We are
already doing that in the U.S. and
EMEA. Once we nail down the basics,
we will be able to focus on scenarios
that make most sense for our service
provider customers and the consumers.
7. Because Microsoft doesnï¿½t work to
secure the distribution rights from
content providers, is it at a disadvantage
compared with service delivery
platforms like MobiTV (News - Alert) or iTunes?
We donï¿½t see it as a disadvantage at
all. I think youï¿½d find that most service
providers prefer to manage their
relationship with contact providers
directly. However, you should talk
with our customers for more details.
That said, we are actively engaged in
educating content providers on the
benefits of IPTV and the unique business
models it enables ï¿½ more niche
programming, interactive content,
and new ways to monetize existing
content assetsï¿½ IT
*Source: Wall Street Journal, ï¿½Verizon
Reworks Microsoft Code For Its TV Boxes,ï¿½
Sept. 14, 2006
Robert Liu is Executive Editor at TMCnet.
Previously, he was Executive Editor at
Jupitermedia and has also written for CNN,
A&E, Dow Jones and Bloomberg. For more
articles, please visit Robert Liuï¿½s columnist
page at http://www.tmcnet.com/tmcnet/columnists/
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