NDS, Microsoft ink interactive pact

Duo to increase WebTV, digital set-top box services

News Corp. software subsid News Digital Systems Group and Microsoft Corp. said Tuesday that they have pacted to offer more interactive TV services to the WebTV platform and other digital TV set-top box offerings.

As America Online readies to roll out AOL TV later this year, the Microsoft deal with NDS, a London-based digital TV technology company, would boost the Microsoft TV platform with new content and services including interactive program guides and e-commerce, all based on Internet standards.

Microsoft TV is the client software for a range of digital interactive television appliances, from current-generation set-top boxes to advanced TV devices.

Adds spice

More specifically, the deal would spice up WebTV with more offerings, something Microsoft has been looking to do to boost sales of the service.

“Microsoft’s adoption of NDS’ open system solution for enhanced television will be a major boost to the industry as it builds momentum throughout the world,” said NDS prexy and CEO Abe Peled.

Microsoft will license, integrate and jointly help expand NDS’ software capabilities. The two companies will jointly market their products.

“Microsoft will not take a stake in NDS and the financial terms, which have not been disclosed, depend on how many units are adopted,” Peled said.

World of subscribers

However, Microsoft is expected to control NDS’ operating software system, giving it control of technology that reaches 15 million subscribers around the world.

Globo Cabo, the largest multiple system operator in Brazil with 1 million subscribers, is the first customer.

Rupert Murdoch controls 82% of NDS.

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