Microsoft Corp.'s decision to shift its interactive television focus to products that support video-related services — and away from its Microsoft TV advanced platform — could take some pressure off middleware vendor Liberate Technologies Inc., wrote Williams Capital Group analyst Shayna Malnak. Microsoft introduced a new interactive programming guide at last week's National Show. And though the software giant still has the Microsoft TV Advanced product in its lineup, Malnak added, it's not likely to see demand until higher-end set-top boxes are deployed. This takes some of the pressure off Liberate, which had been competing head-to-head against Microsoft in the middleware space, Malnak wrote in a research report. The development positions Liberate as the prime middleware vendor for cable operators, she wrote, reiterating her "buy" rating on the stock.