Last week we revealed that Tivo is looking to move to PC based service in a move that would take them head to head with Microsoft.
In the past, TV has been touted as just another feature of Windows Media Centre however Microsoft is keen to move into the content business via a TV based service delivered via new streaming capabilities built into the new Windows 7, the successor of the Vista OS.
In the US Microsoft has already started promoting the new features of Windows 7 in an effort to build momentum however in Australia the Company has done nothing to promote media centre.
When Vista was launched Microsoft Australia promised a brand new music and video download service in partnership with Sanity. This failed to materialise with one senior Microsoft executive describing Sanity as a "Nightmare Company to deal with".
We still have at least another year of Vista before Windows 7 and in the USA Microsoft's is working help third parties create applications (like SportsLounge) and hardware (like CableCard tuners) for Media Centre to develop new applications. In Australia it appears that nothing is happening.
One way Microsoft is generating interest in the PC-as-TV is through innovative content that is available only through Media Centre.
Microsoft's first big investment in such content was SportsLounge - a Media Centre Mecca for US sports fanatics. There, enthusiasts can view current sports scores in real time, track their fantasy football teams' performance, check out highlights at a glance - all with a few simple clicks of the remote control.
Microsoft upped the content ante with the Summer Games, working with NBC to deliver Olympics on the Go.
Available exclusively through Media Centre in the USA, Olympics on the Go provided an unprecedented amount of sports coverage accessible on the viewer's own terms.
Table tennis lovers, for example, could simply subscribe to that sport and the Media Centre would download those matches for later viewing. No need to muddle through gymnastics and swimming, and no need to usurp a TV tuner that was set to record other shows.
Calls to Microsoft executives have not been returned however we are chasing answers from both Microsoft and the Fair Trading organisations in NSW, Victoria and Queensland to see if Microsoft is misleading consumers in Australia.