Microsoft rebranded its software for television service providers today at an industry conference in Chicago. And it's buying a stake in a major Chinese television manufacturer.
According to wire reports citing a regulatory filing from Sichuan Changhong Electric, Microsoft is spending $12 million for about 1 percent of the state-backed company. In addition, the two companies will cooperate to develop, make and market TVs, computers and other digital home-entertainment products, according to Reuters.
The second part of the deal doesn't sound all that new.
About two years ago, Microsoft inked a "strategic cooperation pact" with Changhong. Under that pact, Changhong would receive advanced IT technology and software from Microsoft to develop digital TV sets and other high-technology products, officials from the Chinese company were quoted as saying in a June 2004 report in the official Shanghai Securities News. In return, Changhong would help Microsoft develop its business in China, the newspaper said.
MarketWatch reported that Microsoft and Changhong will collaborate on a project called "Media Galaxy," "which involves developing entertainment products that would link televisions and personal computers at home over the Internet." That sounds very much like one of the new capabilities of Microsoft Mediaroom, the rebranded software for television service providers.