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MSTV revamps iTV program, taps two set-top vendors

Sun, 01/13/2002 - 7:00pm
Anne Kerven

Microsoft TV upgraded its TV Developer Program and worked deals with two set-top vendors as a program benefit, it says. The program pulls together companies with iTV products and services that run on its Microsoft TV platform.

Microsoft says OctalTV SA will supply its 5005 advanced set-top to certain members, and Pace Micro Technology will provide its Di 6000, starting next month.

MSTV already had been working with Pace and Octal, says Microsoft TV Group spokeswoman Laura Norman. Both provide advanced set-tops with integrated DVR capabilities for TV Cabo's Interactiva service, and TV Cabo is deploying a Microsoft TV-based iTV service in Portugal.

Norman says the company expects the boxes will range between $500 and $1,000, depending on model and availability. Only upper-level members of Microsoft TV's program can get access to the deal.

"They will be sold either directly by the supplier or through an authorized, mutually approved third-party vendor," she says. MSTV will post details on its Web site.

The set-tops were added to the program only recently, but Norman says the company already has seen developer interest, but declined to name any participants yet. MSTV has loaned set-tops to program members in the past, she adds.

Norman says Microsoft is talking to other OEMs about providing set-tops to the program, but didn't have anything to announce yet.

Pace Micro Technology Americas President Neil Gaydon says Pace has been working with Microsoft for more than four years, including WebTV. The program only uses the Di 6000 for now, he says.

Gaydon says Pace is just starting to deliver set-tops for the program and will support whatever the needs are.

"This is a very important deal for Pace as TVCabo is Portugal's largest cable operator," he says. "It will provide Pace and Microsoft with a new strategic European technology platform with which to attract new customers as well as build on for the future."

He would not comment on the contract's financial terms.

The revamped program was split into a tri-level structure. An introductory membership is free and includes a localized content development kit, a Microsoft TV Advanced 1.5 simulator, TV authoring add-ins for Visual Studio, how-to support, training and third-party development tools. It also includes a monthly newsletter and access to news groups.

The second, client level, is a $3,000 membership that adds on to the introductory level, including a Microsoft TV Applications JumpStart kit, five licenses and documentation for Microsoft TV Advanced 1.5, and a license to buy set-top boxes or an x86-based development computer for Microsoft TV, running on Windows CE. The membership also includes reduced-cost training and other services.

A $7,000 platform level membership builds on the previous two levels, but includes five developer licenses for Microsoft TV Server 1.0.1, more product support time and upgrades to MSDN Enterprise Level.

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