On October 5, Microsoft took the wraps off the Xbox Live TV service that it first previewed back at the E3 conference earlier this summer.
Microsoft has lined up 40 TV and entertainment providers to support the Xbox Live TV service, including Bravo, Comcast, HBO GO, Verizon FiOS and Syfy in the U.S.; BBC in the U.K., Telefónica in Spain; Rogers On Demand in Canada; Televisa in Mexico; ZDF in Germany; and MediaSet in Italy. The partners will begin rolling out entertainment services to the console this holiday season, in more than 20 countries, according to Microsoft.
Update: This isn't a "cut your cable" announcement, from what I'm hearing/reading. It's more like Xbox becomes your streaming -content adapter for your TV (as the Seattle Times describes it).
Microsoft timed the announcement to happen at the TVNext 2011 conference in San Jose, Calif. The new Xbox Live TV offering is key for Microsoft, given that there's no new version of Windows out this year, so Xbox, Kinect and Windows Phone are likely to be its lead-off products for the holiday selling season.
As my readers may know, I'm neither a gamer nor a TV watcher. Consequently, what's more interesting to me about today's announcement than the content is what's powering Xbox Live TV.
I've been reporting for several months on Microsoft's Project Orapa, which is a mash-up between Xbox Live and the company's Mediaroom IPTV service.
There are many moving parts associated with Orapa, from what I've heard. There's an Xbox Companion app coming for Windows Phone later this year (which has been known by the codename "Rome"). There's a PC-browser client for it that is/was codenamed "Taos" and a Windows Media Center Silverlight client that is/was codenamed "Monaco." A Microsoft representative confirmed all of these codenames in a blog post (that has since been pulled) in early September. (By the way, Microsoft's current Mediaroom site highlights the "Xbox and TV -- together"; "TV on your phone" and "PC as my TV" scenarios.)
Monaco isn't the only place where Silverlight plays into Microsoft's Xbox Live TV strategy. Remember Microsoft officials talking up Silverlight on Xbox 360, as far back as 2009? With Xbox Live TV, it actually seems to be happening. Xbox Live TV is enabled by Silverlight on Xbox, according to one of my tipsters, and is codenamed Lakeview. The platform is said to run on a variant of Silverlight 3 with extensions, and is the base upon which the Xbox Live TV apps are being built, my contact said.
I've asked Microsoft officials if they'll confirm Silverlight's role in the Xbox Live TV offering. No word back yet. Update: Microsoft has "nothing new to say about Silverlight on Xbox" is the official statement.
Xbox Live TV is not yet available (not even in test form). Availability seemingly is tied to the launch of the promised Xbox Live dashboard update. WinRumors has said that update is codenamed "Madrid," and could be available in test form in October and final form in November.
Though Microsoft execs have been playing down Silverlight's role as a cross-platform browser plug-in, the technology is still a key piece of Microsoft's streaming-media strategy.