Microsoft has made a deal with the cable television industry that may eventually allow Windows PCs to display cable HD programming without a set-top box, CNET News reported. Microsoft hopes to implement the technology by late 2006.
The report said Microsoft would work with CableLabs to allow PCs with Microsoft’s Media Center features to display digital cable both in SD and HD resolutions, without a set-top box. Microsoft has offered support for over-the-air HDTV since last fall, but not for cable.
Ron Pessner, a senior director in Windows Client unit, told CNET that there are a number of pieces that still need to come together before the vision becomes reality.
PC makers will be able to include a CableCard slot in the computer, thus eliminating the need for a set-top box for one-way features. However, just as with standard cable television systems, two-way features such as pay-per-view and video-on-demand will require a box.
The cable feature is expected to debut next year with Vista, Microsoft’s next version of the Windows operating system.