Intel software to be integrated into Windows98's WebTV

LAS VEGAS — Just one day after announcing plans to coordinate audiovisual platform systems with Sony, Microsoft has gotten under the technological sheets with another corporate behemoth, pacting with PC chip leader Intel to bring interactive television to computers and other devices.

In an announcement Wednesday at the National Assn. of Broadcasters confab in Las Vegas, Microsoft outlined its plans to integrate Intel’s TV-oriented Intercast software into Windows98’s WebTV feature.

Defining a standard

The Microsoft/Intel initiative will seek to create and define a standard format by which interactive television programming can be created for viewing on personal computers. Eventually, the firms hope the interactive standards will be extended for viewing on television sets as well as PCs.

“We think this association will redefine computers and interactivity,” said Craig Mundie, senior veepee of the consumer platforms division at Microsoft. “The future relationship between PCs and broadcasting content has been well documented, and this joint endeavor will provide even more opportunities.”

Enhanced programming

Early steps will include the development of methods for enhancing television programming with computer-style content and functionality.

Microsoft’s WebTV for Windows provides TV capabilities on the PC, with features such as data broadcasting, an electronic program guide and interactive programming. Intel’s Intercast software allows television programmers to create full-screen interactive programming by combining TV with digital enhancements based on the Internet’s HTML standard.

Microsoft said the interactive programs would be viewable on currently available Pentium 2 class computers.

While the initial projects will be produced for traditional analog capabilities, the digital broadcast environment is not far behind. “As the architecture advances for digital possibilities, we will be working to meet the demands,” said Mundie.

Intel Corp. makes the microprocessors that are the brains of the vast majority of Windows-based personal computers.

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