Cablecard Cometh to MCE

Important news last week to position Microsoft as an ever-increasingly established competitor to the Motorola and Scientific Atlanta (nee Cisco) set-top box makers. Microsoft has struck a deal with CableLabs, the non-profit cable industry technology consortium, to allow Windows PCs to view HDTV content from cable providers, including premium networks. The technology should be shipping before the end of 2006.I’d like to hear what the upgrade path will be, if any, for current MCE systems.
The agreement includes efforts to qualify MSFT’s digital rights management under the OpenCable standards, and paves the way for the Microsoft Media Center Edition (and then Vista), to receive the full spectrum of content from the cable industry. The announcement also touches on the ability for consumers to share this content throughout the home on compliant network devices – including the Xbox360. And while the CableCard is a one-way device (no interactive TV, EPGs, etc which require 2-way comms), having a PC with broadband connectivity on one pipe and HDTV coming in the other should further expand the impact of Microsofts eHome stratgegy, long before IPTV establishes a significant footprint.

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