Comcast Cable TV discontinues use of Microsoft Software

Microsoft and Comcast logos On Monday, officials from Comcast announced that the renowned Cable TV operator is dropping Microsoft software and on-screen guides from its Washington digital service.

Instead of using the Redmond-based company’s software, Comcast now plans to apply technology from GuideWorks, which supplies the channel-surfing guides and cable-box software for Comcast’s networks in the rest of the country.

The new change will give the users of the Philadelphia-based Comcast a more consistent experience and will enable the company to incorporate features to the channel guide more rapidly, maintained Comcast spokesman Steve Kipp told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

“We’re focused on developing a single guide and a platform across the country,” Kipp stated.

The new guide and software will be launched automatically to digital cable boxes, including those with digital video recorders, from June through early September.

The switch is slated to kick off from June 5 in Spokane. The Seattle market will most probably make the change around the end of June, Kipp said.

However, the cable charges won’t be altered, and recordings, schedules and most settings will transfer automatically, said Comcast. It added that the new software will additionally support future moves to incorporate Internet, cable and digital phone offerings.

GuideWorks is a joint venture of Comcast and Gemstar-TV Guide International. The two companies started their partnership in 2004. Comcast could have probably expanded the Microsoft software to cable boxes in other parts of the country, however the alliance did not go further than Washington.

Comcast says GuideWorks also will support future “cross-platform features” that integrate its Internet, cable and digital voice offerings.

Comcast has been the only cable company in the United States using Microsoft’s cable-TV software, called Microsoft TV Foundation Edition, Microsoft spokesman Ed Graczyk told the P-I. The software has a large presence in Latin America.

Microsoft has been courting cable companies for years. Comcast’s move is “the latest of many, many years of problems that they’ve had getting their software into use by the cable industry,” said Matt Rosoff, an analyst with the independent Directions on Microsoft research firm.

Recently, Redmond-based Microsoft’s TV initiatives have focused on technology for Internet Protocol Television, or IPTV, which is being introduced by AT&T and other companies.