Microsoft Unveils 'Thin-Client' IPG

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Microsoft Corp.'s interactive-television division unveiled a new interactive
program guide Monday that targets widely deployed Motorola Broadband
Communications Sector-built 'DCT-1000' and 'DCT-2000' series digital set-tops
and circumvents the litigious reach of the platform's IPG incumbent, Gemstar-TV
Guide International Inc.

That's because Microsoft has an ace in the hole: a $40 million
cross-licensing agreement inked in the late 1990s that allows it to use IPG
patents and other intellectual property tied to Gemstar without fear of legal
retribution.

Microsoft has already taken advantage of that relationship with its WebTV
Plus platform and more recently with UltimateTV.

'We've been working on this [IPG] in-house for several months,' director of
marketing Ed Graczyk said, adding that it's a component of the company's new
interactive-TV strategy, which lessens the focus on software for 'DCT-5000'
boxes.

Graczyk said the first version of the Microsoft TV IPG -- which will run on
existing DCT-1000 and DCT-2000 operating systems and take up less than 350
kilobytes -- is complete and has been validated by Motorola's Acadia Application
Integration Center for its 2000-series boxes.

Acadia, he added, is currently testing Microsoft's IPG for 1000- and
1200-series boxes.

Depending on available set-top memory, Microsoft's IPG is designed to hold up
to five days of program listings and handle advertising applications.

The first version doesn't support video-on-demand, but Microsoft is currently
working on integration with SeaChange International Inc., Graczyk said.

Although Microsoft has developed the IPG for multiple architectures, it won't
port it to Scientific-Atlanta Inc.'s platform unless MSOs ask for it, he
added.

Microsoft has not announced any customers for its new IPG, but it plans to
meet with operators at the National Show about potential trials and
deployments.

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