New Consumer Mediaroom Offering But Will Microsoft Bother In OZ?

Written by David Richards     28/01/2011 | 01:40 | Category: INDUSTRY

Microsoft, whose Xbox 360 and their recent Kinect offering has been one of the company's few successes in the consumer market is looking to deliver a new Mediaroom offering, however there is doubt whether Microsoft Australia management could be bothered to launch the product in OZ.

Earlier today Microsoft posted revenues of $19.95 billion and profits of $6.63 billion for the 3 months up to December. Windows 7 licenses reached 300 million units and the Kinect motion controller for Xbox 360 boosted the company's video game and consumer business.

Now speculation has surfaced that Microsoft is working on a Mediaroom client for Windows Phone and a Silverlight-for-Mediaroom project (aka Taos). There is also speculation that the Mediaroom platform is also up for a possible tie-in with Windows Media Centre (aka Monaco). All this comes on the heels of chatter that the software giant is considering a new Xbox 360 TV service, incorporating Mediaroom, and news of a Silverlight SOC that could be worked into an STB like Santa Fe. All code names and acronyms aside, it looks like Microsoft is gearing up to give Apple and Google some serious internet TV competition, which means Mediaroom's going to have say goodbye to happy hour and hello to some serious all-nighters.

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Microsoft Mediaroom 2.0, allows TV viewers to extend their viewing experiences across multiple screens, including the PC, TV and mobile phone. The Mediaroom software supports whole-home digital video recording, on-demand capabilities, access to both operator-hosted content and Internet TV, and interactive applications. Mediaroom 2.0 combines client software with cloud-based services to provide viewers with access to content on a TV or other display screen.

What is not known is whether Microsoft Australia could be bothered to launch the new offering in Australia due to their reluctance to expand the Companies Media Centre or content offering in Australia?

"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," Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president for the TV, Video and Music Business at Microsoft said.

"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. 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."

While the original version of Mediaroom enabled services to be viewed on TV set-top boxes and on Xbox 360 game consoles, Mediaroom 2.0 alleviates the need for operators to deploy redundant systems, allowing them to expand the reach of their television service to include Windows 7-based PCs via Windows Media Centre, Web browsers on both Macs and Windows-based PCs and, in the future, compatible smartphones. Mediaroom 2.0 also gives TV service operators the ability to reach beyond their managed IPTV networks, extending their television services to their unmanaged broadband networks. As a result, operators have the ability to offer content from a vast number of television and Internet sources, and deliver it to more viewers in more places than ever before.

During a conference call earlier today Microsoft said that they were looking to expand their consumer offerings.
 The company said the positive reception for Kinect resulted in higher sales of Xbox 360 hardware, Xbox Live subscriptions and games for the Xbox 360 console. Revenue in the company's Entertainment & Devices Division rose 55 percent to $3.7 billion. Operating profits in the division were up 86 percent, to $679 million.

"The pace of business spending, combined with strong consumer demand, led to another quarter of operating margin expansion and solid earnings per share growth," said Peter Klein, the company's chief financial officer, in the earnings news release.

Microsoft says it has now sold 300 million Windows 7 licenses, and the latest version of the operating system is running on 20 percent of PCs connected to the Internet.
But the actual Windows results for the quarter weren't quite so rosy. Windows and Windows Live revenues were down 30 percent, as reported. Results in that division a year ago were boosted by the launch of Windows 7 and revenue that had been deferred as a result of Windows 7 upgrade coupons. Adjusting the previous quarter for those factors, Microsoft says revenue in the division was up a modest 3 percent, roughly in line with the growth of the worldwide PC market.

That tepid result in the PC market was due in part to the rise of Apple's iPad. Microsoft is facing criticism for not yet fielding a strong Windows-based rival.