Microsoft Corp is opening a new NetOp center on its Redmond campus, to house engineers and equipment from a variety of companies to design, test, and build systems for transmitting broadband multimedia over phone and cable TV networks. The new initiative is based around Microsoft’s NT server software, including BackOffice, internet server software, NetShow multimedia server, and NetMeeting conferencing software, which be used in conjunction with a variety of networking equipment. Microsoft has recruited Ascend Communications, Cisco Systems Inc, Compaq Computer Corp, Digital Equipment Corp, Lucent Technologies Inc, NEC Corp, UUNet Technologies and WorldCom Inc as co-investors. The move is further evidence of Microsoft’s new interest in the telecommunications and cable TV markets. It’s already been pitching Windows NT at the telecommunications market, setting up software ventures with Hewlett-Packard Co (CI No 3,273), Siemens AG (CI No 3,253) and DGMS Telecom Inc (CI No 3,174). And its $1bn investment in Comcast Corp (CI No 3,178) was made with the intention of boosting the formation of new high speed multimedia communications networks. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is the joint founder of the proposed $9bn, 288 satellite, multimedia network, Teledesic Corp, and Microsoft is also co-operating with Intel to push cable modems and high speed copper wire modem standardization.