More codenames provide clues to planned Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV blitz

More codenames provide clues to planned Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV blitz

Summary: Rome, Taos, Monaco -- the Microsoft Mediaroom-related codenames are multiplying like rabbits. What's going on with Redmond's lackluster IPTV platform?

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Microsoft filed an International Trade Commission complaint against Tivo in an attempt to stop that company from importing set-top boxes on January 24. Just another day in Microsoft-litigation land? Or is there something bigger going on here?

I think the answer is the latter. And it's connected to Microsoft Mediaroom, the company's IPTV platform.

Microsoft licenses Mediaroom to TV and video service providers -- like AT&T, CenturyLink, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone-- so they can provide entertainment services and apps for TVs, PCs and mobile devices. To date, in spite of years of work and investment, Mediaroom sales have been modest (to say the most). Last year, Microsoft made the Mediaroom team (along with Zune Services and Media Center TV units) part of its Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) division.

Microsoft just launched its Mediaroom 2.0 offering at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month a year ago. promising more and better experiences across different screens. As I noted last week, Microsoft working on a Mediaroom for Windows Phone client, that is said to be codenamed "Rome." Since I published that information last week, I've gotten a couple of more Mediaroom tips.

There's also a Silverlight for Mediaroom project -- codenamed "Taos," in the works, my tipsters said. ("Santa Fe" might be the codename for an associated set-top box, one of my sources said.) And there's even some kind of tie-up between Mediaroom and Media Center coming. That project is codenamed "Monaco," my sources are saying.

(This does not seem to be the same codename "Monaco" I heard about years ago. That Microsoft Monaco was said to be a competitor to Apple's GarageBand product. I don't think it ever materialized in any form.)

What to make of all these Mediaroom codenames? Here's my admittedly scattered attempt to try to piece things together:

We already know that Microsoft is working to port Silverlight to Xbox. We also know that Microsoft announced last year that it was working on a Silverlight port to system-on-a-chip (SOC), which would enable Silverlight to run onTVs, set-top boxes, Blu-ray players and more.

(The Silverlight SOC project doesn't seem to have disappeared. When I asked for a status update last week, I was sent the following statement, attributable to Brian Goldfarb, Director of the Developer Platform Group: "The Silverlight team is still actively working with a variety of key partners on SOCs and we have no new information to share at this time.")

We also know that some Microsoft partners are building set-top boxes running Windows Embedded Standard 7, which Microsoft released to manufacturing last year. Silverlight support is built into Windows Embedded Standard 7, as is Media Center support.

Does all of this add up to "Microsoft TV" -- a la Google TV or Apple TV? (Or is running Xbox as an IPTV set-top box Microsoft's answer to its competitors?)

Here's an intriguing hint that there might be more to come from a recent Microsoft "help wanted" post:

"Internet TV is taking over the traditional TV steadily. One of the Microsoft mission goals is to provide a TV solution. Consumer media device (CMD) is one of the exciting products we are currently working on and we are looking for strong SDET to come in and help us deliver this product. The project vision is 'Windows Embedded Powers TV worldwide' and our mission is to provide both broadcast & internet content to meet future demands of consumer media devices."

Given all these set-top/IPTV-related projects, it's not hard to see why Microsoft is guarding its patents on program time guides, TV program scheduling system, preview system, and program delivery technology. IPTV is going to become a bigger component of Microsoft's entertainment line-up in the coming year, I'd say, with tighter tie-ins to a number of its other products and technologies, including Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, Silverlight and more.

Anyone out there have any additional insights as to what's coming with Mediaroom and how it fits with other Microsoft products and initiatives out there? Educated guesses welcome!

Topics: Software, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software Development, Windows

About

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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7 comments
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  • Silverlight Rocks ! Silverlight is gong tobe Everywhere !

    It's really nice to see more news about SL. Actually when it was not named as Silverlight back in 2005/6 I think, it was named as WPF/E (Windows Presentation Framework Everywhere).

    It's becoming a reality now. I think MS had planned Silverlight for everywhere back at that time itself. Good to know it's materializing now.

    I think Silverlight is going to be the Tech which's going to challenge Android/iPhone app's and will run everywhere. Kudos Silverlight !
    jinishans
  • Hopeful

    If they are finally forcing all the warring cats in the TV bag to work around a common base, that is a wonderful development. TV is another area that Microsoft had a lead, as they did with phones. We all know how the phone lead turned out. I hope the TV lead is not so easily squandered.

    I'm particularly interested in moves to bring Media Center to the core of what they are doing. Mediaroom essentially re-invented that stack, adding a few features, to be sure, but I always thought it would have made sense to extend the already highly flexible Media Center experience rather than building a competing code stack.

    Bringing Windows to SOC certainly makes that an easier prospect (the Mediaroom STB is all SOC-based).
    John Carroll
  • Excellent...

    ...Microsoft has proven it is a world leader in Code Name gibberish while producing no products to back it up.
    james347
  • Keep it Simple

    I wish Microsoft would just put Media Center embedded in a set top box with 3 tuners and call it an MBox. Just like the XBox. Don't overthink it.
    jr1734
  • RE: More codenames provide clues to planned Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV blitz

    Rome is already deployed: that is what the U-verse mobile app on Windows Phone 7 is.
    Hamlet_z
  • RE: More codenames provide clues to planned Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV blitz

    Hi Mary Jo,
    I love your interest in MS. We have something in common.
    I think MS definitely has synergy between Slates/Win8, SoC, and IPTV. The key thing that MS products do not provide consumers, ironically, is "consumption." That is an area where Apple excels, isn't it. I think that MS will parlay IPTV/Mediaroom 3.0 (with IIS Smooth streaming) and slates to provide a massive means of consumption and create a competitive advantage. And, obviously, Kinect will continue to drive the IPTV/XBox. Putting it all together, I think that MS's ecosystem will start to take shape. I just hope they don't screw up the marketing, and I hope they open enough MS Stores to showcase their lineup effectively. They will need to flaunt that the MS ecosystem will have it all: Gaming, Windows Everywhere(Soc), Zune(not a hit, but it can be leveraged, and Google doesn't have a response), Kinect (NUI, Social via Avatar Kinect), Products like Ford Sync (and hopefully more of them), etc. I really wish they would brand this ecosystem and show that their sum is greater than the value of their parts. No one else has this lineup. They need to make it all come together more cohesively and make sure consumers can see it. If they do not see it, that is because the products are not integrated well enough. (sorry for the tangent, I got off track)
    I also think it will be interesting to see how Bing gets integrated with IPTV and/or XBox live. That's another item that has been left out and I am sure will be part of the line up soon. Any word on that? My gut tells me this: Because MS is smart at partnering, they are working carefully with broadcasters to find a solution for Internet TV that works for everyone. Once they put together a solution that is safe for broadcasters (where viewers don't surf away on them) MS will solidify the product/service and launch a success, unlike Google TV (where the networks pulled the plug on them, spitefully, on the eve of their rollout), and Apple TV which is not a hit, and I do not see their strategy as being a hit.
    Professional Developer
  • RE: More codenames provide clues to planned Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV blitz

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