Mediaroom on Media Center
During the Microsoft keynote, Ballmer mentioned that customers of IPTV providers like AT&T U-Verse will be able to watch TV on Windows 7 PCs, but he glazed over the how. The how is Windows 7 Media Center -- according to the press release that is available after the jump -- and there's no special hardware like a tuner required. The when wasn't mentioned because it is dependent on the provider, but when they do upgrade to Mediaroom 2.0, Media Center fans will have access to all the same content as a set-top like HD and on-demand, which is something pretty cool.
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Microsoft Unites Software and Cloud Services to Power New TV Experiences
Version 2.0 of award-winning Mediaroom TV platform enables subscription TV providers to deliver more entertainment content to more types of screens, using a single cloud-based infrastructure.

LAS VEGAS - Jan. 6, 2010 - Today at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft Corp. is announcing Microsoft Mediaroom 2.0, the next version of the world's most deployed Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) platform. Mediaroom 2.0 will enable television service operators to provide their TV services to more subscribers than ever before, delivering more content to more screens than the previous version of Mediaroom - both inside and outside the home.

Mediaroom 2.0 is scheduled to be available for operators to start testing beginning next month. Mediaroom 2.0 can be deployed by operators as their entertainment cloud powering the delivery of a complete television service, including cloud digital video recording (DVR), on-demand features, interactive applications, and access to both operator-hosted content and externally hosted content such as Internet TV. The operators' service can be enjoyed by their subscribers on multiple screens including the TV (with Mediaroom set-top box), Windows Media Center, Web browsers (for Windows-based PCs and Macs), Xbox 360 and compatible smartphones.

Also new with Mediaroom 2.0, service providers will now be able to offer their existing on-demand TV service to their entire broadband customer base using their existing set-top box inventory, thereby expanding their service footprint beyond the reach of their IPTV network. The same on-demand service can also be enjoyed on Windows 7-based PCs using Windows Media Center,* as well as on Xbox 360. Service providers also can offer subscribers access to their on-demand programming remotely using a range of Web browsers running on Windows-based PCs and Macs and, in the near future, on compatible smartphones.

Mediaroom 2.0 also adds support for Microsoft Silverlight and Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) Smooth Streaming for the access and delivery of on-demand content. This enables viewers to enjoy an exceptionally high-quality playback experience, because IIS Smooth Streaming adapts the video stream to the user's network connection to enable optimum video quality. In addition, support for Microsoft PlayReady preserves the service providers' ability to secure their content libraries and monetize consumer experiences.

"Our strategy with Mediaroom is to combine the power of client software and cloud-based services to greatly enhance the way consumers experience digital entertainment. We want to make it easier for consumers to find and discover great content, to watch, listen and engage in new ways, and to do so anywhere and on any screen," said Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president for the TV, Video and Music Business at Microsoft. "Mediaroom 2.0 is a key milestone in our strategy, providing the software platform to power operators' service clouds to reach more screens, and more people, with more content than ever before."

More Screens

Watching TV on a PC is a growing trend. For some, it is a second or third screen in the home or is used for watching TV when on the go. For others, the PC may be their only screen for TV. Mediaroom 2.0's new support for Windows Media Center in Windows 7 means operators can now deliver their premium TV services, including live high-definition (HD) TV, DVR and on-demand programming, to virtually any Windows 7-based PC with no additional hardware tuner required. In addition, DVR and on-demand content can be enjoyed on Xbox 360, a broad range of Web browsers for Windows-based PCs and Macs, and, in the near future, playback on compatible smartphones while on the go.

All of this gives consumers more freedom in where and how they access their TV service, with the benefits of a familiar experience across multiple screens. For example, they could start watching a show on one screen and finish watching it on another. They also could build a video queue on their smartphone and watch it later on their TV or PC. While traveling, they could watch recorded TV on their smartphone and later watch an on-demand feature film in HD on their laptop, accessing the same storefront they enjoy at home.

More Networks

To date, Mediaroom deployments have been delivered over a fixed-line managed Quality of Service (QoS) IP network. By integrating IIS Smooth Streaming technology into Mediaroom 2.0, Microsoft enables operators to offer a premium, HD-quality video-on-demand service, with minimal buffering and fast startup times, even over IP-based networks of varying bandwidths.

This significantly expands the service reach for operators and enables them to serve customers on fixed-line as well as wireless and, in the future, mobile broadband networks. For operators wishing to deliver only on-demand TV-video services to customers via the Internet, Mediaroom 2.0 includes a set-top box client that supports this functionality and is designed for self-installation by the subscriber. This client is upgradable to full Mediaroom functionality without the need for hardware changes.

For consumers, this advancement means that more people in more places will be able to experience the benefits of cutting-edge Mediaroom-powered TV services than has been possible before. It also means that whatever the speed of their network, they will enjoy an optimal viewing experience thanks to built-in support for IIS Smooth Streaming.

More Content

Consumers are demanding access to ever-larger libraries of content, and IPTV operators are looking to meet this demand and further differentiate their services by augmenting their existing content lineup with TV and video from the Web. With Mediaroom 2.0, operators can now easily bring together live and on-demand TV with externally hosted content from Internet TV partners and other Internet-based content sources, all in one place with a consistent, easy-to-use interface. New support for playback of content protected using PlayReady, Microsoft's advanced content access and protection technology, further expands the base of potential content for operator TV services. In addition, operators can further distinguish their services with applications that provide rich interactivity and seamless blending of Web and TV content using the Mediaroom application development platform, Mediaroom Presentation Framework.

Once a Mediaroom 2.0-powered service is deployed, subscribers will be able to enjoy the content they want to watch in one place on their TV or PC - no more having to visit a multitude of sites to find what they are looking for or connect a PC to the TV. Instead, they will be able to easily find and watch TV shows on demand across different networks using one easy-to-use guide, or simply search through the programming available to find the shows they'd like to watch, all in a consistent playback experience.

More Revenue

According to analyst firm Screen Digest the top five Mediaroom customers generate on-demand average revenues per user (ARPUs) that are on average three times that of the incumbent pay TV operator in their market.

Mediaroom 2.0 includes a compelling new on-demand storefront that further enhances the monetization potential for Mediaroom service operators. The new on-demand storefront is designed to help drive subscriber usage and satisfaction by providing a richly visual browsing, discovery and playback experience, and offering easy access to other elements of the operator's service directly from the storefront.

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Windows 7 Media Center gets Mediaroom support