Friday, June 16, 2006

Preparing For TV Beyond Windows Vista

Robert Schlabbach, a fellow Media Center MVP and creator of the PPPoE client RASPPPoE, pointed me toward an interesting Powerpoint slide deck that was shown at WinHEC 2006. This slide deck was used for the presentation Preparing For TV Beyond Windows Vista.

This presentation overview included:

  • Future Technologies
    • Worldwide Digital TV
    • Enabling Premium Content
    • Europe and Japan
    • Hybrid Tuners
  • Call to Action

The presentation describes the worldwide move toward Digital TV, and how Microsoft intends to work toward integrating Digital TV into its future eHome products (such as Media Center). While this is a great opportunity, there are challenges that Microsoft will face, particular in the area of premium content from content providers.

Today (with Media Center 2005), for the most part, premium content is done through analog via set top box output. In order to go digital, end to end content protection and rights management is becoming a requirement. Various ways to do this, depending on where you are in the world, including US Digital Cable, Japan ARIB ISDB-T/S, Conditional Access (CA) protected content and US ATSC Broadcast Flag equivalents, are brought up and the need for a common API and crypto solution is mentioned by way of the proposed Protected Broadcast Driver Architecture.

In the presentation, it states serveral commitments that Microsoft is working to improve support for the various worldwide TV standards for 2007. Examples include:

  • Japan
    • PBDA tuners for ISDB-T and ISDB-S
      • Premium content with B-CAS support
    • Live and recorded HD/SD TV
    • Interactive TV (BML)
    • In-band guide (SI/EPG)
    • Protected content pipeline
      • Video, audio, and data
    • ARIB TR-B14/B15 compliance
  • Europe
    • DVB-T and DVB-S/S2 free-to-air and DVB-CI
    • Hybrid tuners
    • Merged program guide (PAL/DVB-T/DVB-S)
    • DVB-T subtitling and DVB Teletext
    • In-band EPG for DVB services
    • Interactive TV with MHEG5
    • Improved service scanning
    • FM radio station naming and analog TV channel renaming

Support for hybrid tuners is also coming, due to stakeholders concerns, including:

  • demands by OEMs for crossover solution tuners
  • regulatory mandates for future proofing today's TV receiver devices
  • demands by users for flexibility to protect investments of existing hardware
  • demands by developers to simplify the driver model

A basic outline of the requirements that a hybrid tuner must meet are further elaborated on within the presentation.

All in all, it is a pretty interesting presentation describing what Microsoft hopes to deliver on the TV front for future products. If these features make it into a future Media Center revision or other Microsoft products, it would go a long way in helping push along the inevitable convergence of PC and television.

Feel free to take a more in-depth look at the presentation slides. If you have any comments, feel free to leave them here.

Update - June 22, 2006 - updated URL to updated slides

7 comments:

John Lockwood said...

Wow, sounds like Microsoft have at last realised the Earth is not flat and there is life outside the USA.

DVB-S, CI, MHEG even DVB-S2 all mentioned! All good news.

However not one single word about MPEG4 H.264 (aka. MPEG4 AVC - Advanced Video Codec). This is REQUIRED for supporting European DVB-S2 transmissions. If they require a DVB-S2 tuner to transcode everything back to MPEG2 then yuck!

The next version of MCE has to support MPEG4 on an equal footing with MPEG2.

Anonymous said...

The links for the slide show seem to have died. Anyone got an alternate?

Jason said...

Interesting, looks like they edited it. I've updated the links to point to the new file. Thanks for pointing it out.

Daniel Harker said...

Fantastic!!

I'd be so pleased if microsoft could create support for 2x DVB-S, preferably using a single premium access card.

Also, the UK satellite boxes are required to make a telephone to the service providor once every so often - I think this is so that they can look out for fraud :)

The other thing is - any possibility that this might support EMM/ECM (the method used to control access to premium channels).

Stefan Marquardt said...

Wow, that's really great news!!! I'm quite surprised and very glad to hear that Microsoft realized that there are customers outside the USA who would love to use Media Center but who just can't do so because MCE2005 doesn't support standards like DVB-S/S2 (at least not natively). I really hope development won't take too long! I'm looking forward to TV beyond Vista (hopefully not too far beyond)...

Kimmo said...

Hi,

I have been missing the support for DVB-SUB (subtitles), and I am sure that I am not the only one at least here in Finland.

It is very sad that Microsoft is causing harm to many set-top-box manufacturers (like Acer) by not supporting DVB-T standards. I guess that many people are delaying their decisions to purchase exciting devices like Acer Aspire iDea 500/510 because the XP Media Center lacks important functionality.

The Blue Button said...

I can see DVB-C is not mentioned in your blog, does this mean DVB-C (cable TV) support is not planned to happen?

Any idea when there will be DVB-S and DVB-T support?