Gates plans TV via your Xbox

8 Jan 2007

In keeping with all things IPTV these days and with what he terms the “digital decade”, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates told the prestigious Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that his company is planning to combine the power of Xbox 360 with Microsoft’s IPTV technology.

“It’s amazing to see the progress over the course of the year, and truly the digital decade is happening. We see it everywhere we look,” Gates said in his keynote address at CES. “We see it in photography: over two billion digital photos were taken last year; 65pc of homes are using digital cameras.

“We see it in the internet adoption, higher and higher penetration on a worldwide basis, and more and more activity there, whether it’s buying and selling or whether it’s planning or being creative. The Internet connected up to the Windows PC and other devices is taking over things that would have been done without it before.”

Gates said he sees portable devices proliferating and becoming a higher part of the growing PC market. “We see the connections, both through Wi-Fi and 3G, getting to the point where you can get information wherever you want to go.

“And we’re just scratching the surface. More and more can be done because as this marketplace is extended,” he said, stating that the rising number of start-ups established companies alike are all investing in this global market to do better work.

Gates remarked on the increasing sophistication of portable devices available in the marketplace, citing cameras of 6-megapixel and upwards and high-definition (HD) televisions as examples.

“Think about these HD screens that when you buy it you just drool looking at that picture; it’s such an improvement over the classic TV screen that you used to have, and now it connects up to your HD cable, to your PC, to your games – all those experiences taking advantage of that incredible visual capability.

He also cited storage space. “People aren’t talking gigabytes anymore, they’re talking terabytes of storage, or petabytes of storage, where really that doesn’t hold us back at all, even with the largest databases.”

At the show Microsoft said it will be looking at harnessing the power of the popular Xbox 360 platform to deliver TV experiences such as digital video recording capabilities with gaming, movie viewing and even voice and video communications.

Users will be able to watch their favourite sporting event while chatting with friends, for example, or participate in a match on Xbox Live while they record a TV programme in the background.

Microsoft said it expects IPTV on Xbox 360 to be available to consumers by Christmas 2007 and offered by providers that are deploying TV services based on the Microsoft TV (IPTV Edition) software platform.

“Our goal is to make entertainment more personal, more interactive and more social,” Microsoft entertainment and devices division president Robbie Bach said.

“IPTV on Xbox 360 and Xbox Live are powerful examples of ways we are bringing together the worlds of gaming, TV viewing and community to make it easy for people to access and discover their favourite content and share their personal experiences with the communities they are part of.”

By John Kennedy

Pictured – Microsoft chairman Bill Gates at the CES event in Las Vegas yesterday (7 January 2007)