Microsoft has announced numerous notable partnerships, including one with NBC in the US to deliver the world’s largest broadband video coverage of an event ever, along with consolidation with a UK telecommunications company which will allow the Xbox 360 to be used as a set-top box.
At today’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced TV presenter NBC would use the IT giant’s Silverlight video technology to broadcast an interactive selection of events and add-ons at the 2008 Beijing Olympics from 8 August, delivering 3,600 hours of live events and customisable coverage, giving users “unprecedented” control over the content.
“This is a very important partnership – it will bring the design world and rich media together to allow people to have new media experiences,” said Gates at today’s keynote.
NBCOlympics.com on MSN will be the first “long-tail” Olympics available free and powered by Microsoft’s cross-browser, cross-platform video plug-in, Silverlight.
Gates was joined by Microsoft president – entertainment and devices division, Robbie Bach, who revealed that the Xbox 360 console’s online portal, Xbox Live, will begin offering TV programs from ABC Television and Disney Channel along with films from MGM for download directly to the Xbox console.
Users will be able to access such programs as Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy and Lost, along with films including Legally Blonde, Rocky and Terminator.
The partnership coincides with an announcement from the company that 10 million Xbox Live members have now downloaded content from more than 3,500 hours available on the website.
“We have reached this milestone six months faster than we thought,” said Bach at today’s event.
“We will now offer twice as much on demand download content than any other company. Online distribution will be a powerful force in video.”
Another major announcement includes the ability for British Telecom subscribers to use their Xbox 360 not only as a games console, but also as a set-top box.
Additionally, the Zune media player will be available for sale in Canada from March, opening up the “possibility” for launch in other countries, according to Bach.