Microsoft, DIRECTV and THOMSON multimedia Join Forces To Make Television More Personal and Interactive

NEW YORK, June 12, 2000 — Microsoft Corp., DIRECTV Inc. and THOMSON multimedia today announced they have formed an alliance to bring to market a new advanced RCA® DIRECTV™ System with the new Microsoft® UltimateTV® service.

The all new RCA DS4290RE System with UltimateTV and DIRECTV service is the first and only direct broadcast satellite (DBS) television platform that integrates DIRECTV programming, digital video recording, interactive television and Internet access in one complete package. This package will allow viewers to watch two shows on DIRECTV at the same time (picture-in-picture), watch one show while recording another, and record over 30 hours of digital quality programming for later viewing on their own
“personal lineup.”
Viewers can choose from more than 500 hours per week of interactive television, respond to promotions with the click of a remote, and stay in touch with family and friends via e-mail. The RCA DIRECTV receiver with UltimateTV and DIRECTV service is scheduled to be available for retail purchase by the 2000 holiday shopping season.

DIRECTV Programming Enhancements

Bringing the leading satellite television provider into the mix of this alliance means consumers will have access to the widest array of digital television programming, as well as to the most robust multimedia and information portal available. The marriage of satellite bandwidth, two digital tuners and a large hard drive will allow viewers the convenience of accessing both traditional video programming and multimedia information on demand.

DIRECTV will also introduce with this platform its new Advanced Program Guide (APG), which allows consumers to view program listings up to 14 days in advance. The new APG will feature convenient navigation search capabilities, making it easy to find programs by title, subject matter or category.

“Almost six years ago to the day, DIRECTV introduced a superior alternative to the way consumers view television. Today we’re moving beyond traditional television programming by offering consumers a richer, more robust television experience that marries entertainment and information services together in one seamlessly integrated platform,”
said Larry Chapman, president of DIRECTV Global Digital Media Inc.
“Working with industry leaders like Microsoft and THOMSON multimedia allows us to offer consumers the very best in television technology and is in keeping with our mission to provide our customers with the most compelling multimedia and information experience available.”

The UltimateTV Experience

UltimateTV, a new offering from Microsoft WebTV Networks, Inc., is the culmination of five years of developing and delivering enhanced-TV services. This expansive new solution integrates digital video recording, interactive television and Internet features, creating a unified user experience.

With more than 30 hours of digital video recording time and dual tuners, subscribers to UltimateTV can create their own television viewing schedule. This innovative digital video recording system records two shows simultaneously while maintaining full digital video and audio recording quality. All live television controls – pause, instant replay, slow motion, jump ahead, fast forward and rewind – extend to picture-in-picture in either or both screens. For example, a viewer can watch a football game in one screen and breaking news in another.

The interactive-TV capability of UltimateTV, based on the Microsoft TV Platform software, enables users to dig more deeply into information-based programs, play along with game shows, find out about a favorite television star or check sports statistics. Kid Friendly® technology and Surfwatch controls allow parents to limit their children’s access to both Web and television content. Integrated Internet access allows subscribers to respond to offers with either a click of the remote or a quick e-mail. New e-mail messages are announced by a red light on the receiver.

“We are excited to be working with two key television innovators, DIRECTV and RCA, to bring UltimateTV to the market. The UltimateTV service puts consumers in control of the most personal and interactive-TV experience available,”
said Bruce Leak, president of Microsoft WebTV Networks.
“No other product or service delivers such an integrated consumer experience. We’re convinced it will be the must-have TV product for the holiday season.”


The receiver for the RCA DIRECTV System (DS4290RE) incorporates two DIRECTV satellite tuners and a hard disk drive for digital video recording, enabling consumers to watch or record two programs simultaneously by using the built-in picture-in-picture capability. For the first time, viewers can also watch one live digital program while recording another.

Additional advantages include digital audio output capability, a standard V.90-capable modem for fast Internet communications, and two USB ports that are planned to support, in addition to printers, advanced peripherals including keyboards and broadband network interfaces such as external DSL modems.

The RCA DS4290RE package includes a digital satellite receiver, an 18-inch satellite dish antenna with dual output LNB and a Master Touch universal remote control. The receiver and remote control will also be sold as a stand-alone unit (DWD490RE) for consumers who already have DIRECTV service. An optional wireless keyboard accessory is available for more convenient e-mail and Internet access.

“This new product demonstrates the powerful combination of two of THOMSON’s key corporate investors — DIRECTV and Microsoft — who are now teaming with THOMSON to deliver the industry’s most advanced entertainment product. The RCA DIRECTV System with UltimateTV service provides all the capabilities of multiple set-top devices in a single integrated unit plus a lot more interactive entertainment options,”
said Enrique Rodriguez, senior vice president of multimedia products worldwide at THOMSON.
“With a broad assortment of features and services, this system will lift family entertainment to new levels of enjoyment.”


Launched in June 1994, DIRECTV Inc. is the leading provider of digital television entertainment with more than 8.6 million customers nationwide, including customers subscribing to the medium-power PRIMESTAR By DIRECTV Service. Through the first five months of 2000, DIRECTV has acquired 715,000 new high-power customers, a 30 percent increase over the same period last year.

DIRECTV is a registered trademark of DIRECTV Inc., a unit of Hughes Electronics Corp. Hughes Electronics is the world’s leading provider of digital television entertainment, and satellite and wireless systems and services. The earnings of Hughes Electronics, a unit of General Motors Corp., are used to calculate the earnings per share attributable to the General Motors Class H common stock (NYSE
). Consumers can visit DIRECTV on the World Wide Web at

About THOMSON multimedia

The world’s fourth largest producer of consumer electronics with sales of Euro 6.7 billion ($6.4 billion U.S.) in 1999 and 55,000 salaried employees in more than 30 countries, THOMSON multimedia has four principal activities: Displays and Components, Consumer Products, New Media Services, and Patents and Licensing. The group engineers, manufactures, and markets display components and consumer products such as televisions, VCRs, camcorders, digital decoders, DVD players, audio and communications products as well as professional video equipment. THOMSON multimedia is listed on the Paris stock exchange (SICOVAM
). THOMSON multimedia is the parent company of the U.S.-based Thomson Consumer Electronics Inc. Consumers can visit THOMSON multimedia on the Web at .

About Microsoft WebTV Networks

Microsoft WebTV Networks is a leading provider of enhanced-TV services using Internet and digital technologies. WebTV Networks offers a range of enhanced-TV services for set-top boxes, satellite products and other TV-related devices. WebTV Networks owns and operates a network of TV services and provides enabling software and hardware reference designs to consumer electronics manufacturers.

WebTV Networks, based in Mountain View, Calif., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp. Microsoft incorporates WebTV® technologies in the Microsoft TV software

platform, which it licenses to television network operators and consumer electronics manufacturers worldwide.

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.

Microsoft, UltimateTV, Kid Friendly and WebTV are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

WebTV Networks, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation, has entered into an agreement to purchase rights to the
“Ultimate TV”
“Ultimate Movies”
trademark/service marks from Tribune Media Services (TMS). The deal will also include the domain name This month, TMS re-branded and re-launched five-year-old as a key component of its new site, which offers comprehensive program information about television, movies and Internet events.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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