Posted by Ted Malone
Microsoft TV, Video and Music, Senior Director of Product Management

You don’t need to look very far to see how radically technology has changed the way we do things. Take the area of personal digital entertainment. Just think about how advancements in hardware, software and cloud-based services have drastically changed the way we experience music, take pictures and capture video, connect with family and friends, play video games and more recently watch movies, TV shows and videos. My eight year old wanted a Zune HD for Christmas, and my six year old can whip me at Mario Kart.

The past few years we have seen widespread availability of mainstream television programming online, content previously only available via traditional broadcast distribution. Consumers now have an enormous choice of live, recorded and on-demand TV shows and movies.

The DVR was the first major milestone in putting consumers in control of their TV viewing experiences. We’re now entering a second major change that may have a greater impact on consumer TV viewing than the DVR, and not just for the geeks out there (hey, some of my best friends are geeks). TV will be everywhere and anywhere you want it to be - inside or outside the home, time-shifted, location-shifted or simply viewed from any room in the house via a PC, set-top box, connected TV or gaming console.

Going forward, consumers will be able to enjoy TV experiences that combine traditional TV content with rich entertainment experiences, drawing on content sources from a variety of places including the Internet. Examples could include outtakes, social commentary, behind-the-scenes interviews and much more.  Software and cloud services will be the key to unifying and creating these new, more personalized, integrated experiences for the viewer even as the number of hardware devices proliferates. Bringing this vision to life is the mission of the Microsoft’s Mediaroom team.

Mediaroom
With Mediaroom 2.0 consumers can view live HDTV programming on their PC’s using just their Windows Media Center software - they can watch or record up to four programs at once.

Consumers want to be able to watch whatever they want, whenever they want, and wherever they want. The challenge of storing and accessing vast sources of content in the ‘cloud’ is something the Microsoft team is focused on solving and we’ve made some good progress (there’s always more work to do!). Our Mediaroom IPTV platform has become the world’s leading IPTV solution, enabling more than 4 million households around the world to access TV content in innovative ways, through operators such as AT&T, British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, SingTel and others.

The release of Microsoft Mediaroom 2.0  that Steve Ballmer announced at CES tonight, will make it easier for consumers to find and discover great content; to watch, listen and engage with TV in new ways; and to do so anywhere and on all the screens of their lives. And, Mediaroom 2.0 will enable pay TV operators to deploy the Mediaroom platform as a single entertainment cloud, extending their premium TV services to reach more subscribers than ever before, across more screens, with more content and more control, anywhere, anytime (even in the bathroom - is there no escape?). And our operator customers can provide all of these consumer benefits without needing to deploy parallel content delivery systems.

Once fully deployed by our operator customers, Mediaroom 2.0 will allow consumers to view live HDTV programming on their PC’s using just their Windows Media Center software - which also provides the ability to watch or record up to four programs at once-. Movies and TV shows recorded on a home DVR will be available anywhere, inside or outside the home. On-demand programming, previously requiring a set-top box, will be available anytime and anywhere as well. Mobile phones won’t be left behind either. Since consumers will be accessing a centralized content system, a pay-per-view movie could be viewed via any connected device, even a smartphone.

A TV revolution is underway, where TV experiences are more personal than ever before. We’re excited to be a part of delivering these new capabilities. Mediaroom will enable operators to deliver – and viewers to enjoy -- a seamless television experience with centralized content, DVR anywhere, on-demand features and interactive applications that can flow from screen to screen on any device.

The TV of the future starts today.