Microsoft Launches PBDA Platform for Enabling Broadcast TV on the PC
--Teams with Abertis on Solution for Delivering DTT on the Internet
--Announces New Silverlight Deals in Europe
--Previews Silverlight H.264 and AAC Support
At the IBC show in Amsterdam earlier this month, Microsoft launched its Protected Broadcast Driver Architecture (PBDA), a platform for enabling broadcast TV on the PC. According to the company, the platform's functionality is made possible by its new Windows Media Center TV Pack, and enables the PC-TV hardware ecosystem to integrate virtually any free or premium TV service worldwide into Windows Media Center, while providing strong protection for pay-TV content. A number of companies are supporting the new platform, including AVerMedia, Buffalo, Hauppauge, I-O Data Device, NEC, NXP Semiconductors, and ViXS Systems.
The new PBDA platform supersedes Microsoft's existing Broadcast Driver Architecture, which has been the company's standard for digital video capture on Windows operating systems for a number of years now. According to the company, the availability of the new platform means that PC OEM's and tuner manufacturers no longer need to rely heavily on Microsoft to specifically enable and support the ability to output broadcast services on a one-off basis, and can instead develop and ship TV tuners for Windows Media Center that target multiple TV standards and markets. "For the first time, we're enabling those in the PC-TV community to build tuners and integrate almost any broadcast service into Windows Media Center themselves regardless of geographic location or television standard--we've removed a major roadblock by delivering one consistent platform for the industry," Geoff Robertson, general manager for Windows Media Center at Microsoft, said in a prepared statement. "The tremendous response we're already seeing for the platform means PC OEM's, broadcast service providers and tuner-makers can now collaborate and embrace the PC as a first-class citizen for delivering more high-quality free or pay content to consumers in their local markets. This is a major milestone for us and our partners as we continue our efforts to deliver the highest-quality, personalized TV-watching experiences available to people everywhere." Other elements of the Windows Media Center TV Pack, in addition to the new PBDA platform, are native Windows Media Center support for DTT in Japan (based on the Integrates Services Digital Television-Terrestrial standard), for free-to-air satellite TV in Europe (based on the DVB-S standard), PVR auto-extend support, and support for a range of TV standards. It has also been certified by the UK's Digital Television Group for use with the free-to-air DTT platform, Freeview, and supports the platform's red-button interactive TV services (note: the certification was carried out in coordination with Hauppauge, which certified its HVR 2200 tuner as part of the same program; Microsoft and Hauppauge bill the combination of their respective solutions as offering a "complete Freeview TV solution for the PC").
In other Microsoft IBC 2008 news:
- The company said that it is working with Abertis Telecom to develop a new service for the management and distribution of digital terrestrial television channels over the Internet, using Microsoft Silverlight (note: the latter is a cross-browser, multiplatform plug-in for delivering rich interactive media experiences and applications on the Web) and Windows Presentation Foundation. The service utilizes Microsoft Interactive Media Manager as its backend workflow solution for acquiring and managing digital content.
- The company said that Microsoft Silverlight is enjoying some success in Europe: it is now powering broadband VOD offerings from TF1, RTL, France Television, ITV and MSN UK and live and on-demand sports channels from L'EquipeTV and Setanta. Microsoft also used the IBC show to preview Silverlight H.264 and AAC playback support. "Using Silverlight, we are very excited to be able to offer the same advanced features and high-quality video to customers both on Windows and Mac browsers," Pierre Brossard, CEO of TF1, said in a prepared statement. "Through visual and tactile navigation of content and playback in a Silverlight rich media environment, the TF1 Vision service will provide a true online interactive VOD experience available to the vast majority of broadband users. In addition, through Microsoft's announced support for mp4 standard formats in Silverlight, we'll be able to easily repurpose existing libraries of H.264 and AAC content and extend the future reach of our service to an ever-growing market of mp4-capable devices."
- The company also announced a new advertising platform and migration program for its Mediaroom IPTV platform, and unveiled several interactive TV applications based on its new Mediaroom Presentation Framework (see separate article in this issue).