Plans rollout of 11.9 million set-tops over next five years

NEW YORK — In a move that helps ensure that Bill Gates will not become as dominant in the cable industry as he is in the computer business, cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. announced it will use a Sun Microsystems operating system in some of its digital set-top boxes.

TCI plans to rollout 11.9 million digital set-top boxes over the next five years.

TCI already had a deal with Sun to use its Personal Java as an applications middleware in a portion of its set-top boxes. Wednesday’s agreement adds that some of TCI’s boxes will also use JavaOS for Consumers as its operating software.

On Monday, TCI cut a deal with Gate’s Microsoft to use its Windows CE operating system in at least 5 million of the boxes it deploys (Daily Variety, May 5).

Digital boxes are the key to TCI’s future growth strategy. In addition to offering hundreds of programming options, the boxes will also offer Internet access and other advanced services.

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