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May 26, 2008 12:00 AM

Competing with Linux and other questions for Microsoft TV boss

Posted by Brier Dudley

Here are a few more excerpts from the interview with Enrique Rodriguez, the Microsoft TV vice president, that didn't make it into the Q&A we ran today.

I also didn't do justice to his personal story. After he received an engineering degree in Monterrey, Mexico, in 1982, he became an engineer at an RCA factory in Mexico, working as a liaison with the headquarters in Indianopolis.

A few years later he was invited to work in Indianapolis, although in those early days of globalization he couldn't go directly.

"They said we won't transfer you but if you quit Friday and show up Monday in Indianapolis, I'm sure we could give you a job,'' he recalled.

Then RCA was sold to GE and then to Thomson, eventually bringing him to Paris where he ended up executive vice president.

But back to the interview.

Q: Can Microsoft change the way it sells this TV software - perhaps give away the software that's embedded in TVs, just so you can build a business with the broadcasters? You're competing with Linux on the embedded CE side, and not terribly well.

A: I think it's up to debate how well we are or are not competing. If you look at most of the really best in class platforms, they are riding on one version or another of our software, so I wouldn't say we're not competing well against Linux.

But the business mdoel of how to get software propagated and create an opportunity to establish a business, there's a lot of unknowns about it. One way - I don't think it's the way we're going to follow, but some of my competitors may follow that - one way of course is to give away the software on the client side and look to make a business on the service side. It's so early, frankly, it's all speculation at this point.

I like to believe there is value to software and we'll find a way to get recognized for the value of the software. The first step is, we've got to make the software valuable. The second step, we've got to find a way to go get recongized for it. I'm not too worried about finding a good business model - I think we can get there.

Q: How concerned are you about competition from the Sezmi TV service? With Phil Wiser involved, it seems like they'll try to be part of Sony's PlayStation4 or PlayStation 5.

A: "I with the competition was limited to just Philip Wiser. There is no exclusivity on the basic idea that software is going to change television. A few years ago you could be controversial by saying that; I think now it's a pretty accepted point. Another question is who is going to be in a position to write the best software, who has the best developer story."

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.