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Microsoft, BBC Pair Up on Digital TV

The BBC has signed a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft to work together on next-generation digital broadcasting technologies.

The agreement could give the software giant a major role in the BBC's delivery of internet-based digital content in the future.

The memorandum was signed by the Beeb's director general Mark Thomson, the director of new media and technology Ashley Highfield and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates on Wednesday in Seattle.

The memorandum does not commit the BBC to buying any Microsoft technology to underpin the introduction of digital services in the future. A BBC representative said this was "definitely on the cards" but insisted the broadcaster won't be favouring Microsoft at the expense of its rivals.

The BBC is working on several digital broadcasting projects, including a scheme to make its programming archive available online.

Highfield cited Microsoft's MSN service, Windows Media Center platform, Windows Live Messenger application and the Xbox console as potential gateways for BBC content.

It's likely, though, the BBC would face heavy criticism and possible regulatory intervention if its content was only available via Microsoft products. According to Auntie, this isn't going to happen.

The BBC representative said: "This is certainly not an exclusive arrangement. We are meeting with Real Networks, IBM and Linden [Labs, behind the Second Life 3D digital world], and we're also keen to speak to the Apples and Googles of this world."


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