Charter Shuns Microsoft for Liberate

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Charter Communications Inc. chairman Paul Allen may have cofounded Microsoft
Corp., but it doesn't look like he's cutting the software giant any breaks when
it comes to selecting a middleware platform for the MSO's advanced digital

On Thursday, Charter announced an agreement with Microsoft competitor
Liberate Technologies, which will supply its middleware platform to a minimum of
300,000 Charter subscribers over the next several years.

Charter's St. Louis system launched a pilot of the Liberate platform on
Motorola Broadband Communications Sector 'DCT-5000'set-tops in February, and the
MSO plans to launch Liberate in one other system this year, a spokesman

The deal with Liberate is not exclusive, and the company is still considering
rolling out the 'Microsoft TV' platform on its advanced digital set-tops, the
spokesman added.

Charter said its advanced digital offering will include the 'TV Guide
Interactive' program guide, a portal supplied by Allen's Digeo interactive-TV
company and electronic mail through the TV.

The MSO also said it will integrate Wink Communications Inc.'s interactive-TV
service and Diva Systems Corp.'s video-on-demand product into the set-tops.

Liberate said it will incur $2 million in professional-service and marketing
expenses this quarter related to market research, testing and Charter-staffing
resources tied to the deployment.

Shares in Liberate, which recently hit a 52-week low, climbed about 3 percent
Thursday, closing at $8.06.