Microsoft Pioneers Development of End-to-End Solutions In Interactive TV Space

LAS VEGAS, April 10, 2000 — Today at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) 2000 convention, Microsoft Corp. announced alliances with three additional television production system providers – Grass Valley Group Inc., Vertigo Multimedia and Video Design Interactive – to develop support for the Microsoft® TV platform. These leading providers enable production and transmission of interactive content and are incorporating interactive TV capabilities into their product lines. Today’s announced collaboration will further enable the creation of mainstream interactive television by providing easy-to-use tools for the television industry. In addition, Microsoft and Norpak Corp. announced that they are working together to broaden support and implementation for interactive television.

These alliances demonstrate growing support by the industry for the Microsoft TV platform. Microsoft first announced alliances in this space with other market leaders such as Chyron Corp., Harris Automation Solutions (makers of Louth Automation Systems), Peak Broadcast Systems, Avid Technology Inc. and Associated Press Electronic News Production System (ENPS) at the Western Cable Show last December. With the added support of these new tool providers, the Microsoft TV platform now has backing from a full spectrum of television production system providers, encompassing relationships with companies involved in every aspect of the production chain of the television industry – from production and post-production to transmission and distribution. Each of these providers plans to develop products that are compliant with the Advanced Television Enhancement Forum (ATVEF) specification.

In supporting the Microsoft TV platform and ATVEF, broadcasters can create new business opportunities, encompassing new revenue streams from e-commerce via the television, and can easily integrate interactive programming into current production processes with minimal impact on staffing and expense.

“We are very excited by the increased support for the Microsoft TV platform from market leaders in television production tools to enable mainstream delivery of enhanced television content and make interactive TV programming a reality for consumers,”
said Phil Goldman, vice president, Microsoft TV Platform Group at Microsoft.
“The progress that our previously announced tool provider partners have made to date is impressive and these tools are changing the way people develop programming today. We will continue to work with companies in this growing industry to address their needs so that we can bring the most innovative enhanced TV experience to consumers.”

Grass Valley Group

The Grass Valley Group is a recognized leader in high-quality video. Whether on the air or online, the Emmy® award-winning Grass Valley Group has the hardware, software and new media technologies necessary to get content wherever it needs to go – broadcast television, data-enhanced broadcasting, interactive television, Digital Cinema and the Internet. Grass Valley and Microsoft have teamed up to put ATVEF-compliant technology into the Profile XP media platform. This allows for content providers and advertisers to store and recall digitally recorded content (commercials and programs) with the interactive elements embedded. It will also enable editing of the interactive data and placement within the program.

“At Grass Valley Group, our customers are telling us that interactive television is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘how soon,’ and they’re saying ‘very, very soon,'”
said Tim Thorsteinson, president and chief operating officer of the Grass Valley Group.
“As broadcasting gives way to what we call ‘digicasting,’ teaming with Microsoft will help provide our customers with competitive technologies that deliver a high-value experience to their viewers, no matter the digital pipeline.”

Vertigo Multimedia

Vertigo Multimedia is a leading innovator in the development of automation systems for the production and delivery of rich media content for a variety of platforms, including high-quality 3-D broadcast graphics systems, live Internet Web sites, and interactive television. Using the power of the PC to bring new possibilities to content creation and automation, Vertigo in conjunction with the Microsoft TV platform can introduce interactive television elements to all forms of content including live event coverage, commercials, programs, news, interactive games and more.

“Integrating support for the Microsoft TV platform within the Producer On Air™ product line allows Vertigo to offer our broadcast clients access to seamlessly integrated, leading-edge interactive television tools,”
said David Wilkins, president and CEO of Vertigo Multimedia.
“Vertigo’s support for Microsoft TV goes one step further in that we will also provide professional production support services to Microsoft TV customers, including graphics development, custom software development and production assistance.”

Video Design Interactive

Video Design Interactive (VDI) is a developer of broadcast to Internet automation software and is associated with Video Design Software (VDS). VDI and Microsoft have teamed up to develop a software application providing a link between the Media Object Server (MOS) communications protocol and content based on the ATVEF for Interactive Television. With this showcase interface technology, broadcasters can now enable interactive content within the normal flow of daily news operations. At NAB, this link will be demonstrated live using the Associated Press ENPS news automation system.

“We are very pleased to be collaborating with Microsoft and the Associated Press on this project,”
said Mike Dilworth, vice president of Engineering for VDI.
“This demonstration is an excellent starting point in our development plans for a suite of tools that will allow ENPS users to enhance traditional television news programming with Web-based content. We believe these types of tools will eventually change the way news organizations distribute information by allowing them to easily create broadcast and Web content at the same time, and from within the same set of tools.”

Norpak Corp.

Norpak is the world leader in data insertion for broadcasting. Norpak has announced support of the Microsoft TV platform and will work with Microsoft on co-marketing efforts to explore, explain and promote Interactive TV, showcase opportunities and new technologies. Norpak is vital to the broadcast community industry since it provides the boxes that allow the interactive data to be inserted into the broadcast signal. Norpak is an ATVEF specification adopter and a firm supporter of the new ATV Forum.

“Norpak has been very active in the TV data broadcast market for over twenty years. Seeing this technology brought in the home for interactive television is quite exciting and Norpak is very pleased to be a participant in both the Microsoft TV platform and ATVEF efforts,”
said Roger Magoon, vice president of Marketing & Sales at Norpak.

Production Tool Providers Progress

Chyron, Peak Broadcast Systems, Harris Automation Solutions (makers of Louth Automation Systems), Avid Technology and Associated Press Electronic News Production System have all made significant progress in developing production tools utilizing the Microsoft TV platform since alliances were announced in December:

Chyron Corporation is developing interactive tools integrated into its market-leading iNFiNiT! and Duet/Lyric systems to enable live and recorded insertion of interactive TV elements for all media content providers. Chyron has established itself as a leading innovator in the development of television graphics and distribution systems, including products that meet the demands of digital and high-definition television. Chyron Graphics Division provides a broad range of leading-edge hardware and software products, including paint and animation systems, character generators and digital graphics systems, along with stillstore and clipstore packages.

“Chyron is very excited about the potential of interactive television,”
said Jim Martinolich, vice president of Engineering for Chyron.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with such innovative partners in creating a new generation of tools for our broadcast customers.”

Peak Broadcast Systems has developed new ways of making standard content interactive. It is providing broadcasters with a state-of-the-art centralized production control system enabling the creation of 2-D and 3-D graphics, animations and overlays. With Microsoft, Peak has built
“easy to position”
interactive triggers and pre-populated content templates.

“Our customers here in the United States, as well as overseas, welcome the Microsoft TV platform authoring tools as yet another path to provide their audiences with enhanced and enriched versions of their media content while simultaneously promoting their brand image to the constantly growing Web audience. The tools’ ease of use, required to produce interactive content, will further add to the success of this new offering,”
said Isaac Hersly, president and CEO of Peak Broadcast Systems USA Inc.
“We envision use of this system to quickly move beyond the brand and image promotion stage to a true revenue contributor by using e-commerce solutions. For example, viewers may have an opportunity to purchase team merchandise while viewing a sports telecast, or track and perhaps purchase stocks while watching financial information programs.”

Associated Press ENPS will feature a simple drag-and-drop function that will enable newscasters worldwide to incorporate interactive elements, such as additional context and background of a story, in their newscasts without adding staff, equipment or new time-intensive steps in the preparation of such reports.
“We are very excited about the creation of ATVEF content within the ENPS environment,”
said Dave Polyard, director of Sales and Marketing, Broadcast Technology, The Associated Press.
“What Microsoft is doing with Microsoft TV is clearly an extension of our vision of the future of television news production: the creation of complementary programming material for multiple platforms on a single desktop. The new industry standard MOS Protocol facilitates this type of development. Without MOS, this type of cooperation would be difficult if not impossible.”

Avid Technology Inc., teaming with Microsoft, has developed prototype functionality that allows interactive triggers to be accurately inserted and synchronized with edited video and sound. This stand-alone tool works in conjunction with Avid’s award-winning editing and shared media products, allowing customers to integrate interactive authoring with the same basic tools used to make traditional television of the past and present.
“With the emergence of interactive digital television, we are going to see a revolution in the way people view and experience television. This will also require new, workgroup-based tools for linking video with interactive content,”
said Paul Henderson, vice president of product marketing for New Media at Avid Technology.
“As a world leader in TV post-production solutions, we are working closely with Microsoft to accelerate the adoption of interactive television by extending our professional product offering with new tools and techniques for interactive TV programming production.”

Harris Automation Solutions (makers of Louth Automation Systems) and Microsoft have developed an interactive triggering system that allows for the synchronized transmission of interactive television contents in programs and commercials. This system is vital for e-commerce on television as it enables commercials that allow point of purchase at the point of sale.

About Microsoft TV Platform

The Microsoft TV platform is a comprehensive software solution for the television industry that makes television more useful, fun and engaging for consumers and creates significant new economic opportunities for network operators and their suppliers of programming, hardware and software. The client software, the Microsoft TV platform, operates a range of TV-centric appliances, from advanced set-top boxes to integrated televisions. Microsoft TV Server is a suite of software components that offers network operators the tools to provision, manage and operate a large-scale, commercial-grade enhanced TV service.

The Microsoft TV platform supports worldwide digital TV broadcast standards, including DVB, ATSC and ARIB. It also supports commonly used Internet standards such as HTML, JavaScript and Dynamic HTML, as well as all interactive content authored according to the ATVEF standard.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software – any time, any place and on any device.

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