Microsoft will reportedly unveil a new operating system designed specifically for televisions in a bid to enter the race for bringing the Internet to television.
The announcement, which is expected to be made during the company's opening keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) starting in two days, will see the company pit itself against competitors including Apple with their Apple TV offering, the Rokyou box and Google, who recently launched their own product called Google TV.
According to The Seattle Time' Brier Dudley, Microsoft's offering -- to be dubbed something along the lines of Windows TV -- will run a modified version of the software giant's embedded device software, with a Windows Media Center interface to be integrated into the operating system. The boxes, which may be shown off at CES, are expected to retail in the United States for around $200 and were apparently spotted at a number of press events last year.
"They'll pose a serious challenge to the new Apple and Google TV devices, largely because the Windows boxes have a polished and familiar TV-program guide that makes it easy to blend and navigate both online and broadcast content," Dudley suggests.
The operating system will likely work hand-in-hand with Windows computers and Microsoft's Windows Media Center software which is already available, and will allow users to stream media from third-party devices to their television sets in a similar fashion to Apple's recently released Airplay functionality. Users will also likely be able to control the Windows TV device from third-party devices, with Windows Phone 7 support likely but not confirmed.
It's thought that Microsoft will not manufacture any Windows TV devices themselves, with the company understood to have instead opted to offering the operating system to third-party manufacturers although this remains unclear at this stage. It's also not clear if or how much the company will be charging for licensing fees for the use of their software but if the software giant wants to compete with the likes of Google TV -- which can be licensed for free adding little in the way of extra overheads for manufacturers -- for pricing, they won't be charging much.