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April 10, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:18pm

MICROSOFT TEAM SEEKS TO DICTATE DIGITAL TELEVISION NORMS

By CBR Staff Writer

In an effort to railroad the television industry to see things their way and shut out alternative formats, Microsoft Corp, Intel Corp and Compaq Computer Corp have agreed a standard for adding digital television to next generation home personal computers. The trio is proposing adoption of three out of the 18 technical standards for displaying digital transmissions set forth by the television industry coalition. It says the proposal would make possible a significant improvement in picture quality as well as transmission of related information and data to personal computers, television sets and hybrid devices. Equipping personal computers to decode and display the new forms of television signals should not add more than $150 to the cost of the devices. Microsoft plans to include the technology needed for its preferred television standards in forthcoming versions of Windows95 and Windows NT, effectively rendering any other competing television standards incompatible with Windows-based computers. Microsoft is also proposing to abolish Teletext by commandeering the television vertical blanking interval to send data to personal computers and other digital devices, such as television set-top boxes attached to broadcast networks. The idea builds on existing Internet standards, outlining a way to send Internet Protocol data packets over existing terrestrial broadcast networks using the IP Multicast protocol. One crucial point of departure between the two sides is in the monitor: the computer industry wants progressive-scan screens, making up the picture in one pass because it makes text easier to read, where the consumer electronics industry prefers traditional interlaced scanning, which it says improves live-action and low-light footage. The television networks plan to begin broadcasting 1,080-line interlaced pictures as soon as possible, but the computer side wants to degrade that substantially, going for progressive scan pictures made up of 480 visible lines, except when the programming source is 35mm movie film, in which case the resolution would be 720 lines. Another problem for broadcasters with the computer industry proposals is that they take up more bandwidth. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd believes it is much too early to start second-guessing the outcome in the standards battles to come, so its first digital televisions will be able to receive all proposed formats.

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