Microsoft is reportedly readying a Web-connected television at the Consumer Electronics Show, aiming to compete against Apple TV and Google TV.
Microsoft could use this week's Consumer Electronics Show to introduce a
connected-television offering that would compete with Google TV and Apple TV.
"Microsoft's going to make a splash in this market with a stripped-down
version of Windows tailored for set-top boxes and connected TVs," Brier
Dudley, a columnist with The Seattle Times
in a Jan. 2 article widely circulated across the Web
. "The software is
a version of its embedded device software, overlaid with the Windows
interface, with media streaming and remote-control capabilities."
Given Microsoft's traditional position of a "fast follower"-or a
company that moves to exploit trends once they emerge in the marketplace-it would
be unsurprising if the company uses CES to issue a TV challenge to Google and
Apple. In December, Apple
reported it had sold 1 million Apple TV units in the device's first
two-and-a-half months of release
, demonstrating the viability of a box that
allows users to watch content ported from the cloud. And Google's decision to
postpone the rollout of Google TV sets and companion boxes, originally set for
CES, could create a suitable vacuum in which Microsoft could push "Windows
Dudley referred to Microsoft's $200 device as "a
stripped-down version of Windows tailored for set-top boxes and connected TVs,"
running Windows Media
If this report proves true, the question will be how Microsoft chooses to
walk the line between computer and traditional television. Conceivably, the
company could choose to hew closely to the Apple TV model, which offers
streaming rentals, including 99-cent TV shows and $4.99 HD movies the same day
the latter appear on DVD.
"They don't want a computer on their TV," Apple
CEO Steve Jobs told the audience during Apple TV's September unveiling
referring to consumers. "This is a hard one for people to understand."
Features such as syncing between a television and secondary devices-smartphone
or laptop-he continued, were "too complicated" for most
Jobs' comments seemed aimed at Google TV, which offers the ability to both
surf the Web and tune into traditional TV broadcasts. Sony televisions with
Google TV retail for between $600 and $1,400, and an offering from Logitech hit
stores with a $300 price. Nevertheless, early critics complained that the
system's user interface had significant kinks, and a Dec. 20
article in The New York Times
suggested that Google had asked
partners Toshiba, Sharp and LG to delay their new Google TV units for further
Google might also use the time to negotiate with the major television
networks, which blocked Google TV from accessing their Websites. Apple is also
wrestling with some of those networks over the right to content.
Reports suggest that Microsoft will also use CES to unveil a
new line of Windows-based tablets
, along with a version of Windows
leveraging ARM Holdings technology. But
given how the market for connected television is expected to only increase in
coming years, a Windows TV could have just as sizable an impact on the
marketplace as any other Microsoft product making its debut.