Microsoft Xbox and Mediaroom IPTV to meet in Orapa

The Microsoft codename clues keep on coming. The latest: Orapa -- a Mediaroom IPTV/Xbox/Kinect mash-up.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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