Microsoft Reaching for Set-Top

Pace Micro Technology demonstrated what it says are the first set-top boxes to support Microsoft's recently announced Windows Media 9 Series, marking a major foothold for the Redmond, Wash.-based software titan in the television gateway arena. The STBs, part of Pace's IP400 series, are intended for the delivery of high-quality, low-bit-rate media over IP networks into the home.

The companies say the home gateways can be upgraded remotely to "future-proof" the boxes for future improvements in encoding standards.

"We developed Windows Media 9 Series to deliver the highest-quality digital media at the lowest data rates, and Pace Micro Technology is helping to make this breakthrough quality available to network operators as they bring new entertainment experiences into the living room," said Jonathan Usher, director of the Window Digital media Division at Microsoft.

The boxes, demonstrated at IBC 2002 in Amsterdam, will be available later this year.