Microsoft TV Partner Programs Launched at NCTA Show Include Extensive Resources for Content Developers and Solution Providers

NEW ORLEANS, May 8, 2000 — Yesterday at Cable 2000, the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) conference, Microsoft Corp. launched the new Microsoft® TV Partner Programs, a coherent suite of free and subscription-based resources to help content producers and developers, independent software vendors (ISVs), systems integrators, hardware manufacturers, television production tools vendors, and other solution providers seize the opportunity of enhanced television. The three programs – the Microsoft TV Content Developer Program, the Microsoft TV ITV Tools Program and the Microsoft TV Solution Provider Program – further strengthen Microsoft’s commitment to the enhanced-TV arena. This comprehensive program builds on Microsoft’s long history of excellence in developing and supporting an evolving community of third-party companies that build on and add value to Microsoft platform technologies. Currently there are more than 100 members of the Microsoft TV Partner Programs.

Microsoft TV Content Developer Program

The Microsoft TV Content Developer Program is designed to educate and offer resources to anyone – including Web developers, Web companies, independent producers, television studios, networks and broadcasters – wanting to make enhanced-TV content and applications. The program will offer development and content creation tools, including a Content Developer Kit, development instructions including online and offline training, resources and education to create enhanced-TV content.

To kick off the Content Developer Program, Microsoft is launching a series of training classes beginning next month. In addition, Microsoft hosted a developers conference yesterday at the NCTA show, offering developers two venues where they can learn how to produce interactive-TV content.

“Microsoft is committed to providing industry-leading support programs that enable anyone interested to create compelling interactive-TV content and to making it as easy as possible for operators to deploy tiered enhanced-TV services to their subscribers,”
said Phil Goldman, vice president of the TV Platform Group at Microsoft.
“Our Partner Programs, training classes, Web site services and other resources will help developers tune in to enhanced TV and empower them to capitalize on interactive content opportunities.”

First Training Classes Scheduled for June

Microsoft is forging relationships with third-party companies to take advantage of existing knowledge and expertise in the creation of interactive-TV content. QuickStart Technologies, a premier provider of e-business training and consulting services and a longtime Microsoft Certified Solution Provider Partner, is the first company that signed on to educate developers to produce content for enhanced-TV services such as those enabled by the Microsoft TV Platform.

“Courses like this are ideal for helping content developers get up to speed quickly, because we’ve centralized the knowledge of the technology, best process and approach in one place,”
said Mitch Argon, CEO of QuickStart.
“Interactive TV is an exciting initiative, and we’re thrilled to be on the leading edge with Microsoft.”

Based in Irvine, Calif., QuickStart has been offering award-winning e-business education services since 1988. The company will provide training classes for the development of interactive television June 15 and 16 in Los Angeles and in New York City this September. The cost of each one-day course is expected to be $400 to $500.

Microsoft will team up with third-party vendors to offer additional ongoing training classes and educational seminars for content developers. Those interested in more information about the courses and joining the program can visit the Microsoft TV Platform Web site at .

Window of Opportunity Opens Wide

According to a February 2000 report from Internet research and advisory firm Jupiter Communications, 30 million homes in the United States will be using interactive TV by 2004. Microsoft has been working with network operators around the world and has secured more than 14 million units of Microsoft TV software and will begin deployment later this year.

“Forecasts like these make it clear that opportunity looms large for content developers and cable companies over the next few years,”
said Paul Mitchell, senior group manager of content and standards for the TV Platform Group at Microsoft.
“Our goal is to provide the best TV platform available for creating and delivering enhanced-TV content and to be the best company to work with for delivering services, bar none.”

More Resources Available at NCTA Developers Conference

In a related effort to provide free resources for interactive-TV content development, Microsoft yesterday sponsored a developers conference,
“Destination Interactive Television,”
at this week’s NCTA show. The seminar appealed to anyone – cable company executives, independent producers, post-production professionals, Web developers – interested in learning more about interactive television and how to implement this exciting technology.

The developers conference, which was held Sunday, May 7, highlighted the opportunities for developers producing content for the Microsoft TV Platform. Attendees received specific information on how to design and produce interactive-TV content, learned how to build to the Advanced Television Enhancement Forum (ATVEF) specification and learned about available tools and technologies. In addition, several companies shared the benefit of their experience rolling out enhanced-TV services as well as the business value of doing so. Featured companies included AT & T Broadband, Rogers Cable, TV Cabo, Columbia Tristar Television and MSNBC.

This developers conference is the third in a continuing series of such events hosted by Microsoft. At the Western Cable Show in December 1999, Microsoft co-sponsored the AT & T-Microsoft TV Platform Developer Conference, which drew approximately 300 of the industry’s leading content developers. Most recently, a developers conference held in connection with the National Association of Broadcasters Convention (NAB 2000) in April 2000 attracted approximately 450 attendees.

ITV Tools Program Offers Further Support to Developer Community

As a complement to the Microsoft TV Content Developer Program, Microsoft’s suite of resources for the developer community includes the Microsoft TV ITV Tools Program. This program provides support to companies developing interactive-TV tools and applications for the Microsoft TV Platform and the ATVEF specification.

Ongoing plans for the tools program include continued support through training events, online information and updates to the software development kit (SDK). More information on the program can be found at .

Microsoft TV Solution Provider Program

Parallel to the content developer and tools programs, Microsoft has launched a program to support the extensive community of ISVs, systems integrators, hardware manufacturers and other solution providers interested in building enhanced-TV solutions. The Microsoft TV Solution Provider Program encompasses a variety of analogous efforts to inform solution providers and empower them to design, develop and deploy products and services on the Microsoft TV Platform. At the center of the Solution Provider Program is a Web site that provides technical information, hardware and software development kits designed to speed up the development and delivery of solutions, special educational events and a developers forum that encourages solution providers to provide Microsoft with feedback on ways to improve the program.

Microsoft expects to make a Solution Provider Directory, lab kits and in-depth technical training programs available in the summer of this year with the developers forum slated for fall of 2000. More information on the Microsoft TV Platform Solution Provider Program and registration information can be found at .

About the 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, Microsoft TV Basic Digital for current-generation set-top boxes and Microsoft TV Advanced for advanced set-top boxes, operate a range of TV-centric appliances from advanced set-top boxes to integrated televisions. Microsoft TV Server and Microsoft TV Access Channel Server are a pair of server software products that offer 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 specification.

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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