It took 12 years and more than $10 billion, but one of Microsoft’s biggest dreams may finally be coming true: The company is close to becoming a major player in the television business.
This is not about PCs that play video — the company has done that for years — but rather a whole new platform for delivering television over the Internet, through software that’s mostly invisible to consumers.
The company is helping phone companies build a new infrastructure for delivering bleeding-edge television services, superfast Internet and phone services over a single line to the home. It’s a test of how far Microsoft has evolved beyond desktop software and whether it’s ready to join the elite fraternity of tech companies that can power massive, ultrareliable “carrier grade” systems used by the telecommunications industry.
Over the past year, four of the five major phone companies in the U.S. and others in Europe and Asia have signed contracts worth up to $400 million to use Microsoft’s TV software. Those companies cover 75 percent of the U.S. and much of Western Europe. Globally, Microsoft has contracts with companies providing 26 percent of the world’s phone lines.
But just because the systems are being installed doesn’t mean it will work well or that customers will sign up, said Josh Bernoff, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass. His market research firm predicts 2.2 million people will use the service by 2009, making Microsoft about the ninth or 10th largest television operator.
Much more by following the link including a history of Microsoft efforts that did not pan out. Having had some personal experience in this area, I would have to observe that all the would-be players in the over-hyped interactive TV market had similar problems or we would all be watching some variety of it today. What sets Microsoft apart is that they perservered and the article reinforces that view.