In recent months Microsoft has signed cross-license agreements with a number of large hardware electronics firms like Samsung and Seiko-Epson and today announced another with LG Electronics, the Korean electronics giant. This is standard practice for larger corporations, but there is a novel aspect in today’s agreement in view of Microsoft’s recent grumblings about Linux patent infringement:
LGE will be making ongoing payments to Microsoft for the value of Microsoft patents as they relate to Linux-based embedded devices that LGE produces.
That’s not exactly new since the Samsung announcement said:
Samsung will also obtain coverage from Microsoft for its customers’ use of certain Linux-based products.
It’s hard to tell what is really going on here from press releases and the companies won’t reveal the actual financial and technical details, but the whole point of cross-licensing agreements is mutual insurance. It wouldn’t surprise me if any of these firms using Linux took out a little Microsoft Linux insurance as part of the deal.
The Bill Gates (et al.) keynote is still going on as I write this, but the press releases are out. The overview in Microsoft Showcases Windows Innovations to Help Customers Navigate Through the Digital “World of More” is frankly rather clearer than the rushed presentation (narrative version here). Skipping to the new news:
DIRECTV. Microsoft and DIRECTV Inc. will announce a multiyear agreement that will enable the flow of DIRECTV digital content between Windows-based PCs, DIRECTV’s digital set-top boxes, PlaysForSure™ devices and the Xbox 360 system. Consumers will also be able to use a Media Center PC to enjoy high-definition DIRECTV content.
Sky Networks. Microsoft and British Sky Broadcasting (Sky), the leading pay-TV provider in the U.K. and Ireland, today announced an agreement to create a Media Center PC version of Sky’s forthcoming broadband content service, Sky by broadband. The core service will allow millions of Sky TV customers to access video content via the PC, with hundreds of movies to download and hundreds of sports clips to stream.
URGE music service. MTV Networks’ forthcoming digital music service, URGE, will be deeply integrated into Windows Media Player 11 and offer more than 2 million songs from the major labels and thousands of independents, as well as exclusive MTV Networks programming and original content. URGE will also be available through Windows Media Player 11 for Windows XP.
URGE has it’s own press release, but the bottom line is that it offers a subscription service as well as individual item purchases.
For Media Center PC’s there are a variety of content deals with Comedy Central’s MotherLoad, mtvU, Showtime Interactive, Turner Broadcasting System Inc.’s GameTap, and VH1 VSPOT. There are also some new Windows Live services for Media Center:
Live.com TV gadgets. Live.com provides the ideal location for services that make it easier to find and manage TV-related experiences across multiple devices. Customers can easily see TV programs scheduled for recording along with best bets. These services provide a window into one’s Media Center PC from almost anywhere in the world.
Live.com TV recommendations. Live.com enables customers to easily rate shows they’ve watched on their TV via their Media Center PC. As users rate more shows, they get better, more personalized TV recommendations, which they can share with their community.
Finally, there were the gadgets:
Toshiba America Inc., Tatung Co. and LG Electronics have signed up to venture into the difficult territory of Portable Media Centers albeit with new media services like Starz.
Update: Peter Moore came on at the end with a rapid fire list of Xbox 360 facts and figures, but the big one is that they expect to ship up to 5.5 million units by June and have added a 3rd manufacturer to increase supply.