Proving it is no sleeping giant and how it really intends to pin its future onto the internet flag, Microsoft has launched a strategy that will put it at the heart of future internet television, particularly in making internet protocol television (IPTV) players financially viable.
At the prestigious IBC2008 broadcasting conference in Amsterdam, the software giant launched a new programme aimed at easing the transition for IPTV providers using other platforms to migrate to its Mediaroom platform.
Microsoft Mediaroom already has a global customer base of leading telecommunications services providers, including AT&T, BT, Deutsche Telekom, Swisscom and Reliance Communications in India, with more than 1.5 million subscribers connected.
There are currently over 250 IPTV providers worldwide and one analyst has predicted IPTV subscriptions are set to grow by 70pc this year.
The Microsoft Mediaroom Migration Programme delivers a structured assessment process and analytical tools for migration, including business and technical workshops to review set-top-box portability, network compatibility and audio-visual head-end interoperability.
The programme also includes risk-benefit tools to compare lifetime customer value and build the business case for executive management.
“As the IPTV market matures, we’re seeing interest from operators on first-generation platforms and home-grown solutions to migrate to Microsoft Mediaroom,” said Ben Huang, director of product management for Microsoft Mediaroom.
“These service providers need to add high-definition, advanced digital video recording (DVR) and video-on-demand features that are now fundamental to any competitive TV offering, and they want to remain competitive by being able to easily deploy advanced interactive applications.
“We are currently engaged in assessing migration opportunities with a number of customers and have been approached by many more. Platform migrations are complex, so this programme has been developed to assist with business and technical planning, and reduce the cost and pain of migration,” Huang said.
There are three key phases to the Microsoft Mediaroom Migration Programme, the first involving planning scenarios around engineering and business metrics, the second trialling programme creation and infrastructure and the third involving training and workshops for commercial deployment.
“There are now over 250 IPTV operators worldwide, and we expect global IPTV subscriber growth to be nearly 70pc this year; by comparison, cable and satellite pay-TV subscriber growth will be single-digit,” Ben Keen, chief analyst at Screen Digest explained.
“To maintain this growth, operators must retain a competitive edge by using a technology platform that allows them to continue offering innovative new services. Screen Digest estimates that one in seven active IPTV set-top boxes worldwide will be running Microsoft Mediaroom by the end of 2008,” Breen added.
By John Kennedy