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Cable bypass? Microsoft, Thomson team on broadband set-top

Sun, 08/01/2004 - 8:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner

Call it Son of WebTV...with an attitude.

Microsoft Corp. has tapped Thomson to build a set-top that will run a home-network-enabled version of the MSN TV service.

Microsoft said the new box and service amounts to a "complete overhaul" of earlier versions. The broadband-powered MSN TV box is slated to hit retail in time for the 2004 holiday shopping season.

The companies did not disclose the technical capabilities of the new box, noting that they will be "announced at a later date."

The product will be "a giant leap forward that will appeal to a much broader set of consumers," said Sam Klepper, general manager of MSN TV, in a statement.

While the earlier dial-up version of Web TV offered simple Web browsing and e-mail applications, a broadband-enabled box would give Microsoft the ability to bypass cable operators to deliver a range of digital video and music services.

According to CED sister publication TWICE, the device will carry a suggested retail price of $199, and ship with a wireless keyboard and remote control. Playing off Microsoft's Media Center PC concept, the new, networked MSN TV box will be capable of feeding content off a PC via a home network and displaying it on a television screen.

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