Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa

Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa

Summary: The Microsoft codename clues keep on coming. The latest: Orapa -- a Mediaroom IPTV/Xbox/Kinect mash-up.


The codename clues just keep on coming. After yesterday's blog post on Microsoft's "Ventura" music/video services that are under construction, I was tipped by some reliable tipster types about a related codename: "Orapa."

Orapa is a city in Botswana and home to the Orapa game park, as well as one of the largest diamond mines in the world. Given Microsoft's (and especially the Interactive Entertainment Business unit's) love for city codenames these days, it fits right in.

Free chart of Microsoft codenames: Download the Microsoft Codetracker

Orapa, in development now, is going to be a combination of Xbox Live and Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV, from what I'm hearing. It would give Microsoft a way to turn TV into a service that it could deliver to Xbox customers first, and Windows, Windows Phone and set-top-box customers, later.

Orapa will enable the mash-up of Mediaroom features, Xbox Live social features (like avatars and recommendations), Kinect sensing capabilities, and some of those forthcoming Ventura music/video services. Remember the circa-2007 rumors about Microsoft "Carbon," an add-on for Xbox that was supposedly going to add IPTV video playback? Orapa seems to be the successor to that initiative, my sources say.

Via Orapa, Mediaroom users would be able to use Kinect's gesture and voice controls to control their TV watching. Xbox users would get more content on their consoles.

This isn't all pie-in-the-sky stuff, according to my contacts. Microsoft is shooting to get Orapa out by holiday 2011, my sources say, via Mediaroom operators. If the Softies stick to schedule, that would mean a test preview build would be out in March 2011, and RTM would happen this summer.

I blogged earlier this year about a number of other Mediaroom-related codenames. We now know/believe that

Rome = Mediaroom for Windows Phone Taos = Silverlight for Mediaroom Santa Fe = Settop box using Silverlight/running Mediaroom Monaco = Mediaroom for Media Center Ventura = Music and video discovery/consumption services (related to Zune)

I don't have IPTV. In fact, I don't have a TV, period. (Yep, it's true. I'm mostly a Luddite in my off hours.) Any media enthusiasts out there see how these various pieces might fit together -- and how they'll help evolve Microsoft's three (or more) screens and a cloud strategy?

In related news, Microsoft officials said on March 9 that the company has sold 10 million Kinect sensors to date.

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa

    Sounds good to me. I talked with a support rep at Xbox not too long ago and he mentioned that they were testing the Xbox as basiacally the cable box using IPTV. Not sure if that is true or not, but would be a good idea to take advantage of the Xbox since its so widely used and widely available.
    • RE: Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa

      @OhTheHumanity Yeah but you have to remember that they already have IPTV on xbox 360s currently through AT&Ts U-verse (which uses Microsofts MediaRoom) which is probably all that the Xbox rep you talked to meant. U-verse is in limited markets so it really is a bit of a test.
  • RE: Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa

    Is this going to be a traditiona IPTV service where you need a subscription from say AT&T, or is Microsoft going to take care of that aswell?
  • Me Likey!

    It sounds like IPTV over the general Internet, if you have a fast connection. At first, the Xbox will act as a set top box, then you will be able to see the programming on your PCs and smartphones.<br><br>I hope to eventually see a lot of Channels by bands, groups of bands, entertainment groups etc. I believe these individual channels can form small networks (within the larger network) in which they refer to each other in the group, and allow the user to jump among them. These small networks could probably create shared programming that is shown on all channels within the small network. E.g. a small network of bands could create tapings of concerts, game shows, branded games, etc. that involve all the bands. They could then show these co-developed experiences on their individual channels, along with their own unique content. These individual channels could also leverage the MS network's marketplace to sell music files, video files, DVDs, merchandising, etc. These channels should also be able to advertise on web pages and within the network experience and on old media, to drive users to their properties. I think with the above arrangement, we will be able to get better stratification of income levels in the entertainment industry, and the long tail of the entertainment industry will be better monetized.
    P. Douglas
  • RE: Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa

    The important question that no one seems to be asking is this: How much will it cost? Being that the content is going to be streamed over the ISP?s connection. I do not think companies like Comcast and Verizon are going to let someone undercut them in an effort to gain control of their networks. Both offer deals when you sign up for multiple services, If you just pay for Internet the price of it will go up. Another question is do you really want to leave an xbox on that many hours a day? With the typical child watching more TV these days, this can?t be good for the xbox hardware. Expect to see more cases of the dreaded R.R.O.D.
    • RE: Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa

      MS already has the service in Mediaroom today. The problem is how they can get Mediaroom to your TV (in the US, its only been ATT through their U-Verse service/set up), IF MS can use Mediaroom and tailor it so that it streams over basic IP through an Xbox 360 then they can handle all of it themselves. However, I think they will also bring ATT along with them... it will be an IPTV -LIKE service, powered by U-Verse for all 360 owners... NOT just those that have U-Verse already.

      Xbox 360 no longer has a RROD problem and uses much less power then it did when it first launched. Leaving it on all day would be much better than multiple set top boxes being left on all day. If we can cut out Cable and our Tivos and just use 360, we will save tons.
  • RE: Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa

    This will be horrible for the home experience. Has torture device written all over it.
    • RE: Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa

      Why is that?
  • RE: Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa

    This all sounds great. As usual the Xbox will be the launch pad for premier home entertainment experiences. I just wish they would kill their other media platforms and have some focus. Lets kill of Windows Media Player and instead ship Windows with Zune (or whatever it ends of being called). Lets kill of Windows Media Center and port over the Xbox interface with Xbox services (minus Xbox games). We could call this interface/OS "Windows TV." A silverlight app store could be shared between the two. There would be less teams/money spent/conflicting agendas and products if the two teams worked on one OS that ran on both Xbox and Windows machines.
    • RE: Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa


      Last night I had a heck of time explaining to my wife (a new Windows Phone 7 user) the differences between all the different Windows media players. She kept up, but was a disappointed by the obvious silliness of it all. That's pure new customer feedback... fix it before her contract ends!
  • A closet Luddite?

    That's silly you do not have TV. We actually do not have cable so I can sympathize. I did not have an XBox until a week ago when I won one with Kinect. You should try out TV!
  • RE: Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa

    I already have AT&T U-Verse and paid for the "upgrade package" to make my Xbox work as a U-Verse receiver. I hope the new change will integrate the MediaRoom service into the dashboard (so I can go from watching TV to playing games quicker)...Making the Xbox serve as a DVR and integrating with Media Center would be nice additions as well.

    Right now the Xbox can only be a satelitte unit with U-Verse. You have to use a dedicated U-Verse DVR in order to have an Xbox as a receiver. Allowing the Xbox to act as the master unit would be a big plus for me...also allowing it to act as a media center hub would remove the need for me to pay extra charges for any u-verse receiver. I'm sure AT&T wouldn't like that idea however.
  • RE: Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa

    This has been launched in my area. It will be very interesting to see just how integrated it will be. What I'm hoping for is the Media Room content to be included in the XBox Live Bing search...