Charter Shuns Microsoft for Liberate


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.