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1/7/2008
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Microsoft, Broadcom Partner On Internet TV Services

Microsoft will adapt its Mediaroom Internet television client software for use on set-top boxes powered by Broadcom's system-on-a-chip technology.

Microsoft is teaming up with set-top box chipmaker Broadcom to develop technologies that will let consumers hook their televisions to the Internet while also tapping a host of new products and services.

Under the plan, Microsoft will adapt its Mediaroom Internet television client software for use on set-top boxes powered by Broadcom's system-on-a-chip technology.

Microsoft disclosed the initiative Sunday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The aim is to create new, interactive television offerings piped into consumers' homes using the IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) standard.

"We see increased synergy between the breadth of Broadcom product offerings and what Microsoft wants to enable within the whole home DVR environment," said Richard Nelson, VP of marketing for Broadcom's Broadband Communications Group, in a statement.

Microsoft and Broadcom said their collaboration will result in a number of advanced digital television offerings, including easier digital video recording, interactive TV and photo and music sharing services.

Broadcom has captured a healthy share of the set-top box market with its next-generation system-on-a-chip technology. Its 65-nanometer BCM7405 chip includes built in support for the digital rights management technologies included in Microsoft's Windows Media format -- including DRM 10.

It also supports new video compression standards like VC-1 and H.264.

But the biggest challenges for Microsoft and Broadcom in terms of marketing their offerings may be commercial, not technological.

Most U.S. cable network operators have to date been hesitant to offer anything beyond the most rudimentary interactive services due to concerns that the bandwidth required for those services detracts from the bandwidth available to deliver programming.

The companies may have more success in Europe where interactive TV is better established. Indeed, Microsoft on Sunday said British Telecom will tap the Microsoft, Broadcom alliance for technology for BT's Vision digital television service.

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