Microsoft Wraps More Cable Around Windows


Love watching cable TV on your PC? Then you’ll probably get excited about the work Microsoft has done to make Windows 7 even more cable-ready.

At CEDIA Expo 2009 in Atlanta, the company announced that Windows Media Center in Windows 7 will add native support for QAM and ATSC standards; support for switched digital video (SDV); and a new tool to let users add a CableCard-enabled digital cable tuner to their PC. Windows 7, the next major release of the operating system, is slated for a Oct. 22 launch.

In addition, Microsoft and CableLabs announced that they worked together to let customers using CableCard digital cable tuners play back programs marked as “copy freely” (CF) — such as those from local channels — on other PCs and portable devices.

The SDV support in Windows Media Center for Windows 7 works with tuning adapters — such as those from Cisco and Motorola, supplied by a cable operator (see CableLabs OKs Switched Video Tuners From Cisco, Motorola).

“We are excited that digital cable customers will now be able to take advantage of this new opportunity to bring great cable TV programming to the PC,” said So Vang, CableLabs’ vice president of OpenCable. “We are dedicated to helping customers get the most from their cable service, and this will be a great win for both the customer and the cable operators.”

Meanwhile, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) said it will provide a new firmware update for ATI TV Wonder digital cable tuners being used with Windows 7 and Windows Vista to allow the “copy freely” portability features and SDV support.

Another vendor, Ceton, was showing a technology preview of its Multi-Channel Cable TV Card, which lets Windows Media Center PCs play or record multiple live channels of premium HDTV at once, as well as stream HD to multiple TV sets throughout the home, through a single CableCard. Ceton also presented at CableLabs’ Summer Conference last month (see CableLabs Innovation Showcase: The Other Demos).

Also at CEDIA Expo, Microsoft — along with the Media Center Integrator Alliance (MCIA) — announced the winner of its 2009 “Ultimate Install Contest.”

That would be one Dustin Anderson of Vision Audio in Lubbock, Texas, who built a system with Windows Media Center for a customer in Odessa, Texas, with five (5!) dedicated “theater-style rooms,” 12 media racks, 98 speakers and 30 zones of distributed audio. More info and pics are at