It's not disloyal. Liberate just finished the test first and didn't antagonize the test-giver.

United Pan-Europe Communications NV reportedly has chosen Liberate Technologies' software to go alongside Microsoft's in UPC's 17-country rollout of its digital ITV service. The rollout will start in the Netherlands. The announcement is the second in the hotly competitive, European ITV software market, as several companies, including Microsoft, Liberate and OpenTV vie to supply UPC.

A Liberate spokesman told CEDaily that UPC had announced in September 2000 that it would use Liberate software in Vienna. The latest announcement pairs the two software suppliers' products in 17 countries.

According to The Wall Street Journal, UPC, a key Microsoft customer in Europe and a company of which Microsoft is an 8 percent owner, had been testing both companies' software. Liberate's record landed it the first crack at supplying the software in that market and put Microsoft's nose out of joint, WSJ reports.

A Microsoft system also had been tested and performed well. But Microsoft's failure to complete the TV software by an October deadline was a hard hit for UPC, causing observers to speculate Liberate would be first choice.

Last October, NTL Inc. in the U.K. also chose Liberate's software for its interactive services on NTL's U.K. cable network and to rethink a digital service that would have used a Microsoft software, WSJ reports.

Last week, UPC announced it would merge its German subsidary EWT/tss and its TeleColumbus option from Deutsche Bank and its subsidiary B.V. Holding CAI with PrimaCom AG, creating Germany's third-largest cable operator with approximately 1.6 million subscribers.