Microsoft postpones Mediaroom IPTV developer conference until early 2012

Microsoft has postponed its usual fall Mediaroom IPTV Technical Conference until some time in early 2012. Does the delay mean Orapa is behind schedule?
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft has postponed its usual fall Mediaroom IPTV Technical Conference until some time in early 2012.

The conference, which originally was slated from September 26 to September 28 this year, was to be held at the Microsoft Silicon Valley campus. But according to an e-mail sent to developers, the postponement is due to "conflicts with Mediaroom planning timelines."

"(I)t has become apparent that September is not the optimum time to host the conference. Postponing by a few months into 2012 will enable us to deliver a more informative and effective conference to all," said the conference organizers (in an e-mail message I saw), who added that they will be refunding existing registration payments.

The postponement of the Mediaroom conference comes at a significant time for the Microsoft IPTV team and product/service.

Microsoft showed off earlier this year its coming Xbox Live TV service, which is meant to merge live TV programming into the Xbox Live service. YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and ESPN are all announced partners for the coming service.

I have blogged about Microsoft's Project Orapa, which I believed to be the codename for Xbox Live TV. When I asked a Microsoft spokesperson if Orapa is/was Xbox Live TV, I was told: "We don’t comment on rumors or speculation." The spokesperson said Microsoft had no further details to announce about Live TV, "other than we’re thrilled to announce our commitment to bring live TV to Xbox around the world later this year. We’ll share more news about partners and features when the time is right."

I had heard from my contacts that Orapa would be a mash-up between Mediaroom, Microsoft's IPTV service, and Xbox Live, which would result in more live TV programming coming to the Xbox. The goal of that service was to provide Xbox users with TV features like video-on-demand, last-channel playing, electronic-programming guide, etc., in addition to the actual content.

According to a timetable I saw, Microsoft was aiming to deliver Orapa code to its operators in July 2011. (I'm now wondering if that date has slipped, given the Technical Conference push-back.) The first iteration of Orapa was supposedly going to use the Mediaroom infrastructure and be delivered almost exclusively, if not exclusively, via Microsoft's network of Mediaroom providers around the world. The subsequent version of Orapa was to be hosted on Windows Azure, from what I heard earlier this year.

Microsoft seems to be moving full-steam-ahead to combine its TV, Xbox and cloud assets. One July 17 job posting on the company's site for a tester in the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) unit, is seeking candidates for a team that is aiming to "build the future of TV."  The post adds: "We are looking for a senior technical leader to help us architect, design and extend test infrastructure that scales across TV content and TV device types."

Anyone else have any guesses as to what's going on here? Is Microsoft's delay of the conference possibly connected in some way to Media Center announcements which may/may not happen at the Windows 8 Build conference? Could Microsoft's purchase of the Sony-Microsoft and Microsoft-Sony domain names figure in here somehow? Other thoughts?

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