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Gates at CES: Microsoft Partners With MTV Networks, DirecTV, Comedy Central on Media Center PCs

Jan 5, 2006  •  Post A Comment

During his traditional Consumer Electronics Show pre-show opening keynote address on Wednesday Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced partnerships with several television entities, including MTV Networks, DirecTV and Comedy Central.

During a speech that focused largely on the attributes of Microsoft’s new operating system Vista, slated to be introduced later this year, rather than on television, Mr. Gates also slipped in news that Microsoft has struck an innovative new partnership with DirecTV to provide DirecTV’s programming content on Media Center PCs. The Windows-based PC that’s designed to be an entertainment hub grew from about 1.5 million copies of Media Center software shipped at the start of 2005 to 6.5 million by the end of the year, Mr. Gates said.

Also, Microsoft announced that Comedy Central’s new broadband platform Comedy Central MotherLoad will now be one of the content providers that resides on the Media Center PC.

These partnerships follow the news earlier this week that Microsoft has linked with Starz Entertainment for its relaunched Starz Ticket broadband movie service now known as Vongo. As part of that partnership, the nearly 1,000 Starz films are accessible for broadband consumption and also can be accessed on Microsoft-powered portable devices.

Finally, in an effort to play catch up to Apple’s dominant iTunes brand for digital music, Mr. Bill Gates and MTV Networks’ Van Toffler, president of the music group, announced plans to launch this year a new digital music service known as Urge that will be based on Windows Media Player. The two executives gave broad sketches of the details at the show. They said the new service to be available later this year will include 2 million songs for purchase or subscription. The service will include some MTV content from shows such as “TRL” and “Unplugged” as well as content from VH1 and CMT, Mr. Toffler said. “It is our mission to create a truly immersive, engaging, emotional and entertaining service,” Mr. Toffler said.

Mr. Gates also touched briefly on Microsoft’s role in powering telephone company video launches from Verizon and AT&T. He said both will expand commercial rollouts this year, bringing the “innovations” to deliver a personalized TV experience to consumers.

“[In 2005] we did trials, very successful trials, and this is the year AT&T and Verizon are rolling out in commercial deployments over the course of the year. These deployments will scale up and that’s when you will start to see these innovations come in, and it blows away the previous platform,” Mr. Gates said.