Microsoft rolled out a new brand for its IPTV tools for service providers, and it's calling it Mediaroom. Formerly called Microsoft IPTV Edition, it's more of a branding exercise for IPTV companies to brag about than actual new technology. Using the Mediaroom name, Microsoft aims to make the whole concept of IPTV easier for home users to understand. Let's see if we can make some sense of it. What's in Microsoft's latest witches brew of TV goodness?
With Mediaroom, Microsoft's interface brings together lots of existing technologies into one set-top box offered to customers of IPTV services such as AT&T's U-Verse, letting users instantly access TV shows, Internet video, and practically any multimedia content that's now available on the Internet, on cable TV or broadcast. This will allow service providers to compete against the burgeoning Internet TV offerings such as Joost, as well as cable TV providers.
Of course, there's TiVo-like digital video recording. Also, you can get shows when you want them with video on demand, and now Microsoft folds in personal media sharing similar to what's already on the Xbox 360 and Windows Media Center, letting you grab music and photos from other PCs in your house and watch them on your TV.
The platform will also let you completely annoy everyone else watching TV with you by letting you punch up multiple screens, channels, programs and camera angles on one screen. Never mind that the show you're watching already has one director—you can be a second director, and you can completely ruin everyone's viewing experience but your own.
And oh yeah, also added to the mix is DTT support, meaning digital terrestrial television, where you can also receive regular old broadcast TV channels. So there it is, come full circle: This ought to put a fire under the asses of cable TV providers. There's Internet TV, multimedia access around the home and outside, too, and you can watch the Super Bowl, too.
It's going to be a brave new world. In fact, IPTV is seen by many analysts as the successor to cable TV; right now IPTV subscribers number just 3 million, but that number is expected to jump to 50 million by 2010.