Microsoft and a Portugese video and broadband company teamed on an iTV development kit. The two just launched the English version — for Microsoft TV Developer Program members.

Sagreskit, developed by the software giant and Novabase iDTV in Portugal, is designed to speed and ease building iTV services for Microsoft TV's advanced version 1.5 platform running on OctalTV's STB5005 and STB6005 set-top boxes.

"It will be available only to client- and platform-level members of the Microsoft TV Developer Program, through the program Web site," a Microsoft spokeswoman says. The kit builds on last month's announcement that "as part of the fee-based levels of our Developer Program, Octal and Pace (Micro Technology) would make Microsoft TV configured set-top boxes available for a fee."

The product's first version includes PVR management, with video file handling for creating video-based applications. It also includes tools to enable file conversion from and to MPEG-2.

The kit also comes with Smart Card handling, digital video dynamic tuning, and Society for Motion Picture and TV Engineers (SMPTE) 363 simulation to synchronize content with video broadcasts by allowing developers to send SMPTE 363 triggers, Microsoft says. Finally, the product's multiplayer gaming feature lets developers create games via a set of client and server objects; Microsoft says games can be run between two or more set-top boxes via a broadband connection.

A spokeswoman says the kit costs $300, payable to Octal and that the developer would also use an Octal TV box running Microsoft TV for $650.

Microsoft and Octal support TV Cabo's TV Digital Interactiva service, launched in June 2000 in Portugal.

Separately, Microsoft and Macromedia Inc. are giving discounts on Macromedia Flash to iTV developers who use it. Members of Microsoft's TV Developer program get 15 percent off on the software.