Microsoft and cable giant Comcast announced late Monday that the two companies were partnering to delivering advanced dual-tuner cable set-top boxes to Comcast customers in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Washington state. The deal is a huge win for Microsoft's TV business, which had yet to secure a major deal in the US. With Comcast on board, however, the company's fortunes appear to have changed, and Microsoft now has a large-scale US deployment of its TV software from which to expand. Comcast says this deal is only the beginning, as well. As the nation's largest cable operator, the company is in a position to get Microsoft software into millions of US homes.

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"This is going to fundamentally change people's perception of TV," said Moshe Lichtman, the corporate vice president of the Microsoft TV Division. "November 15 marks the date when Comcast customers in Washington state will begin receiving some of the best digital cable services available, powered by Microsoft TV software. Being a Puget Sound-based company, we're particularly honored that Washington was chosen as the launch market for these exciting new services and look forward to enjoying them in our own communities."

 

The new tuners, which are based on Microsoft TV Foundation Edition software, will enable Comcast customers in Washington state to record, pause, and rewind Live TV, use other digital video recording (DVR) features, and even record HDTV at native resolutions. The boxes also support Video On Demand (VOD), online games, and other interactive services. Comcast says that its beta customers have been surprised and pleased by the speed of the Microsoft interactive program guide (IPG) and the clean interface.